The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.
By December 20, over 600,000 people in the UK had been vaccinated against coronavirus – and that number is only going to go up with today’s news. UK regulators have approved the Oxford vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, for use by the NHS. It joins the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in being approved for use in the UK, and gives health services greater capacity and flexibility in rolling out the vaccine.
Rigorous testing of the Oxford vaccine proved that it was both safe and efficacious in guarding against coronavirus, and the final step was waiting for approval from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), which had been rumoured for the past few days. With their approval now given, and with 100 million doses of the vaccine on order by the UK government (enough to vaccinate 50 million people), the vaccine will start to be rolled out across the country from Monday.
The Oxford vaccine, though later to arrive than the Pfizer/BioNTech counterpart, does have distinct advantages that make it easier to store and distribute. For instance, whilst the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70°C, the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a standard fridge, and is also comparatively cheap to develop, at around £3 per vial per Sky News. Vaccinations with the Oxford vaccine will now begin in early January, and they might not be limited to GP surgeries either – as the Sunday Telegraph reports that sports stadiums and concert venues could be used as mass vaccination centres.
The new doses are expected to kick the UK’s vaccination program into top gear, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock expressing his hope that “2021 can be a year of hope and recovery because we can see our way out of the pandemic”. Here’s hoping!