HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The AstraZeneca vaccine is one step closer to making its way to the U.S. market. New research released on Monday shows the drug is 79% effective at preventing severe symptoms and 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations. A Houston doctor says the U.S. has stockpiled the drug and will be ready for a mass rollout.
"Really thinking this is going to be approved mid-to late-April, and again, we are excited about this vaccine because, we've been stockpiling it and this is stable in the fridge. So this is going to be a vaccine that's going to be placed in pharmacies and doctors' offices. Places that don't require a big ol' freezer," said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, infectious disease specialist with UTHealth.
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If approved by the FDA, AstraZeneca says the company will deliver 30 million doses immediately and another 20 million within the first month. Ostrosky was a part of the recent AstraZeneca research trials at UTHealth, not as a doctor, but as a patient.
"With the other vaccines, the first shot is mild and the second, shot you get more side effects. But with AstraZeneca, it's the other way around. So the first shot, you feel some local pain, a low-graded fever and fatigue. And then the second shot is easier," said Ostrosky.
AstraZeneca has been studied with two doses given to patients four weeks apart. Despite some initial reports in Europe about blood clotting, Ostrosky said the vaccine has been approved safe for all adults.
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"With this vaccine, we really think we are going to be vaccinating a lot more people, faster," Ostrosky said.
Not only can the vaccine be stored easier than other vaccines, but it's also $2.50 a dose, compared to Pfizer at $20.
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Houston doctor says US government stockpiling AstraZeneca vaccine for mass rollout if FDA-approved