Dr. Anthony Fauci said an AstraZeneca news release may have contained misleading information about its Covid-19 vaccine efficacy — “an unforced error” that may create doubt about what is likely a good vaccine.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases posted a statement early Tuesday saying that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for the trial expressed concern over AstraZeneca’s announcements on its latest findings for its Covid-19 vaccine.
Early Monday, AstraZeneca had issued a news release saying its Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization, citing long-awaited US trial data.
When the DSMB saw the press release, “they got concerned and wrote a rather harsh note to them – and with a copy to me – saying that in fact they felt that the data that was in the press release were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit, and wanted them to straighten it out,” Fauci told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Tuesday. “On the basis of that, we put out the release that you just showed that essentially told the company, they better get back with the DSMB and make sure the correct data get put into a press release.”
The fact is, he said, the AstraZeneca vaccine “is very likely a very good vaccine,” and this situation does nothing but cast doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to vaccine hesitancy.
Fauci said this was not necessary and that the data are “really quite good, but when they put it into the press release, it wasn’t completely accurate.”
The fact that the DSMB picked up on this discrepancy was an example of a safeguard around vaccines, Fauci said.
AstraZeneca said in a statement Tuesday it will “immediately engage with the independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) to share our primary analysis with the most up to date efficacy data. We intend to issue results of the primary analysis within 48 hours.”
Watch Dr. Fauci respond to AstraZeneca's news release: