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AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and mRNA COVID-19 vaccines showed similar and favorable safety profiles in a population-based cohort study of over a million people

AstraZeneca beyond vaccines

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As the world was approaching the one-year mark of the global health crisis, news of the impending availability of COVID-19 vaccines to jump start the country’s vaccination program provided much-needed hope at the start of the Year 2021.  Oxford/AstraZeneca was one of the first COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the country and administered to priority groups.

A new laboratory study performed independently by investigators at the University of Oxford found that a third dose booster of the AstraZeneca vaccine significantly increased levels of antibodies up to almost 3-fold against the Omicron variant.1

Amid the threat of the new Omicron coronavirus variant said to be more infectious, the country commenced booster vaccination in November, starting with healthcare workers and those with comorbidities. This was expanded to cover fully vaccinated adults in early December. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being used as both homologous and heterologous boosters for recipients of other brands of Covid-19 vaccine. A preliminary analysis of AstraZeneca’s ongoing safety and immunogenicity trial showed that AstraZeneca Covid19 vaccine, when given as a third dose booster either homologous or heterologous to MRNA vaccines, increased the immune response to Beta, Delta, Alpha and Gamma variants. Also, a separate analysis of samples from the trial showed increased antibody response to the Omicron variant. These data add to the growing body of evidence supporting AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine as a third dose booster irrespective of the primary vaccination schedules tested.5,6

On January 21, 2022, AstraZeneca Phils has completed its delivery of 16.5M doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine procured through the multilateral agreement with the national government, local government units and the private sector. These vaccines will be made available to more Filipinos for the primary and booster doses as a continued support to the Philippine national vaccination program to help Filipinos fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing a vaccine that reduces the risk of COVID-19 and its potentially severe complications is possibly the biggest contribution of global biopharmaceutical AstraZeneca to a world crippled by the pandemic, but it certainly isn’t the only one.

The Company also paved way for the development of long-acting antibody (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) for the pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) of COVID-19. In December 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its use. It is the only antibody authorized in the US to prevent COVID-19 symptoms before virus exposure. Tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab is also authorized for emergency use for prevention of COVID-19 in several other countries.

Studies are underway to provide information on the impact of the new Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) on AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination.7,8 Of the Omicron binding site substitutions relevant to AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination that have been tested to date in preclinical assays, none have been associated with escape from AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combinationneutralisation.7-8 In vitro findings demonstrate AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination neutralises other recent emergent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants, including the Delta and Mu variants.8

AstraZeneca is progressing with filings around the globe for potential emergency use authorisation or conditional approval of AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination in both COVID-19 prophylaxis and treatment.  AZD7442 is not yet approved for use in the Philippines. 

“Beyond the vaccines, we make sure that we continue to offer solutions especially for non-communicable disease patients in the new normal. We provide healthcare solutions along a continuum of care – from prevention, awareness, diagnosis and treatment, to post-treatment and wellness,” said AstraZeneca Philippines Country President Lotis Ramin.

The vaccine has been granted a conditional marketing authorization or emergency use in more than 90 countries. It also has Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization, which accelerates the pathway to access in up to 144 countries through the COVAX Facility.

In the Philippines, the COVID-19 Vaccine (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]) COVAX Supply has been given ‘emergency use listing’ by the World Health Organization. Similarly, the direct supply has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Philippine Food and Drug administration (FDA). This means that there is more evidence to come about this medicine. The World Health Organization and the Philippine FDA will review new information on this medicine as it becomes available, and the leaflet will be updated as necessary. Please also note the vaccine cannot be marketed or sold, advertised, and promoted.

In April, Diabetes Philippines teamed up with AstraZeneca, Philippine Association of Diabetes Educators, Association of Diabetes Nurse Educators of the Philippines, and 13 partner LGUs to launch the ACT Now for Diabetes to identify type 2 diabetic patients who are most at risk of developing complications. The program aims to educate the public and private physicians about comprehensive diabetes management and to empower patients with the right information.

In 2020 alone, diabetes accounted for 37,265 deaths, making it the fourth most deadly disease in the country, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.2 This advocacy will help address the high diabetes mortality in the Philippines

“With ACT NOW, we aim to emphasize the importance of collective action, a shared effort between healthcare stakeholders and decision makers to help patients achieve optimal management of their disease and complications early.” said Ramin.

In the Oncology therapeutic area, AstraZeneca collaborated with Intellicare and Pru Life UK. The partnership is to create a holistic approach establishing an ecosystem throughout the journey of a patient with lung cancer. It started in July which focuses on disease awareness, early detection, and patient support.

“Intellicare believes that we are better able to dimensionalize our brand of quality, extend compassionate, and holistic healthcare through our trusted partners. The partnership is centered around being in touch with the needs of people enduring such complex conditions.”, said by Asalus Corporation (Intellicare)

“Our partnership with AstraZeneca opens up opportunities for our customers to increase awareness and provide moral support for themselves and their families who have been diagnosed with cancer, especially amid the pandemic”. shared Allan Tumbaga, Pru Life UK SVP and Chief Customer Marketing Officer.

AstraZeneca’s other patient programs include a national cancer triage hotline in partnership with Cancer Coalition, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology and Philippine Society of Oncology supporting a multidisciplinary approach for better disease management. AstraZeneca also leverages on social media channels for lung cancer awareness and education through LVNG with Lung campaign which offers a support community that aims to inspire and give hope to cancer patients and people living with them.

In the Philippines, cancer is now the 2nd leading cause of death, next only to heart disease. Among the different types of cancer, lung cancer is the deadliest and accounts for the highest mortality rate. AstraZeneca is enabling innovative partnerships to use artificial intelligence to help diagnose lung cancer.

AstraZeneca was awarded as the “Innovative Business Partner of the Year” during the Nordic Sustainability Awards Night held last February. The annual award is given to a company that has used technology and created a business model in order to achieve sustainable and innovative solutions while facing current challenges in the Philippines.

“This is just one of the many examples of how we try to achieve sustainability in healthcare, by improving patient outcomes through a holistic approach.” said Ramin.

Ramin was also among the honorees of the American Association of the Philippines as Woman of the Year held in November. In a year full of challenges, AstraZeneca was able to launch new healthcare sustainability programs as well as pursue ongoing projects with long-term goals.

In the respiratory therapeutic area, one of its long-running programs is the Juan Healthy Lung Philippines, launched before COVID-19 outbreak. The initiative, in partnership with medical societies and patient groups, aim to improve disease management capabilities and to educate Filipinos to cope  with asthma.

According to a Global Asthma Report, approximately 11 million Filipinos are asthmatic yet 98% of patients lack proper treatment.3 In 2019, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) announced a new approach to better asthma management.

True to one of its core values of putting patients first, AstraZeneca constantly finds ways to improve healthcare access, bringing solutions to achieve optimal care and improved outcomes for patients. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these efforts are important now more than ever before. AstraZeneca Philippines was awarded as one of the Top Community Centric Companies in Asia by the Asia Corporate Excellence and Sustainability Leaders Awards, and recognized as the Health and Wellness Company of the Year by the Asia Leaders Award.

Ramin said, “Improving outcomes for patients inspires us to do what we do.”  

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Metropoler is a social media-centric news website in the Philippines that covers the intersection of financial, business, media, tech, science, tourism, food, entertainment, art, politics, and culture launched on June 1, 2020.
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