Tonya Villafana
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COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca Approval Tracker

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People behind the vaccine

The stories from the individual behind the discovery, creation, development and supply of our vaccine

Mike Whelan
Overcoming the challenges of accelerating vaccine development
Dr Aurélia Nguyen
Ensuring equitable access across the globe
Pam Cheng
Safely and quickly scaling up vaccine production


COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is a vaccine used to protect people aged 18 years and older against COVID-19, which can cause serious illness and even death. It prepares your immune system to identify and destroy the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes the disease COVID-19. The vaccine delivers a modified common cold virus containing the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein. These spike proteins protrude from the outside of coronaviruses and help them infect cells within the human body. This “modified virus” technology has been rigorously tested and successfully used to make vaccines for other diseases.

When injected, the vaccine carries the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein into your body’s cells. Your body starts to produce the spike protein on its own. Immune cells in your blood recognise the spike protein as being an ‘invader’. Your body starts making antibodies and immune cells (called T-cells) that target and destroy cells showing this spike protein. The immune system can then spot the coronavirus in the future, by recognising the spike protein on its surface, and call for more antibodies and T-cells to be produced very quickly. This stops the coronavirus from spreading and reduces the damage caused by COVID-19.

Although the testing of coronavirus vaccines has been faster than usual because the pandemic is a major public health emergency, no risks have been taken with vaccine safety. Worldwide, over 60,000 people have taken part in testing this vaccine through clinical trials and the vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against all severities of COVID-19 and across all adult age groups. Regulatory agencies that approve medicines have clear and strict rules for the approval of any new medicine and the vaccine has now been granted emergency or conditional use approval in over 70 countries.