Last updated: 26 Jan 2021 4:39 pm

Development of the vaccine

How were vaccines developed so quickly?

Medicines including vaccines are highly regulated – and that is no different for the approved COVID-19 vaccines. There a number of enablers that have made this ground-breaking medical advancement possible and why it was possible to develop them relatively quickly compared to other medicines; 

  1. The different phases of the clinical trial were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process; 
  2. There was a rolling assessment of data packages as soon as they were available so experts at the MHRA could review as the trial was being delivered, ask questions along the way and request extra information as needed – as opposed to getting all information at the end of a trial; 
  3. Clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer. 

 

Were the trial participants reflective of a multi-ethnic population?

The Public Assessment Reports contain all the scientific information about the trials and information on trial participants.

For the Pfizer trial, participants included 9.6% black/African, 26.1% Hispanic/Latino and 3.4% Asian.  

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 10.1% of trail recipients were Black and 3.5% Asian.

There is no evidence either of the vaccines will work differently in different ethnic groups. 

Was it tested on high risk groups?

For both vaccines trial participants included a range of those from various ages, immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions, and both found the efficacy of the vaccine translates through all the subgroups. 

Details of trial participants for both vaccines are published online.

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here (opens in a new window).

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here (opens in a new window).