WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s encouraging news in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers think a new vaccine might do more than prevent people from getting very sick from the virus — it might reduce the spread of the illness.
The findings come from the University of Oxford’s new research on AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Volunteers in the study underwent regular nasal swabs to check for the coronavirus.
Researchers reported that after two doses of the vaccine, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests decreased by 50%.
After only one dose, the study shows positive tests dropped by 67%.
Scientists believe the positivity rates would not have changed if the vaccine simply weakened infections.
The preliminary findings from Oxford University could back up the British government’s controversial strategy of delaying the second shot for up to 12 weeks so that others can receive the first dose.
Until now, the recommended time between doses has been four weeks.
One of the Oxford researchers said scientists also believe the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to offer protection against new variants of COVID-19, but they’re still waiting for data on that.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet authorized in the U.S.