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UPDATE 1-AstraZeneca says Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine results encouraging

(Adds exec comments on U.S. election, background)

Nov 9 (Reuters) - An AstraZeneca executive said he felt encouraged by “incredibly promising” COVID-19 vaccine trial data unveiled by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, while hoping the United States would “embrace innovation” under the next administration.

Speaking at a Financial Times online conference on healthcare on Monday, AstraZeneca senior executive team member, Ruud Dobber, said the first set of efficacy data from a large-scale study made him optimistic that AstraZeneca too would be able to follow up on positive results from early-stage trials.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and BioNTech’s experimental vaccine was shown to be more than 90% effective based on initial late-stage trial results, the companies said earlier in the day.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca, working with the University of Oxford, expects to report late-stage trial data on its COVID-19 immunisation, another frontrunner, before year-end.

“What we have seen in Phase I and Phase II - whether it is Pfizer or AstraZeneca with our Oxford vaccine - is that if you are able to generate neutralising antibodies and a good T-cell response that you can make the virus less hostile,” Dobber said.

“The efficacy shown earlier today is incredibly promising and I really hope that more vaccine producers will showcase more or less the same results sooner rather than later,” he added.

The Pfizer/BioNTech results were hailed by many as a gamechanger, including U.S. President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, who have both taken very different approaches to tackle the pandemic and general healthcare.

Dobber’s message to Biden and his administration was this: “Embrace innovation, be critical, but embrace innovation ... Let’s find a dialogue and let’s not fight too much about the political colour.”

Biden on Monday said a coronavirus vaccine approval process must be guided by science, warning that a vaccine likely will not be available for months.

Dobber also added that he foresees a strengthening of the Affordable Care Act under Biden, who has been very vocal of the benefits of the program implemented in 2010 when he was vice president in the Obama administration. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alistair Bell)

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