The vaccine made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is the 2nd vaccine to be approved for use in the UK.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the rollout will start on 4 January “and will really accelerate into the first few weeks of next year”. The vaccine has also been given the go-ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This vaccine is part of the massive immunisation campaign in the UK which is expected to span the next year in attempts at returning life back to normal for the country’s residents. Already, the UK has ordered 100 million doses from AstraZeneca, which after the required 2 jabs per person, will be able to vaccinate 50 million individuals.
The vaccine is shown to be up to 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, nearly matching the protection by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccinations. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was designed in early 2020 and has since gone through large scale clinical trials. Outside of these trials, however, more than 600,000 people in the UK have already been vaccinated.
This vaccine is widely regarded as highly efficient due to its cheap cost and ability for mass production. It is also able to be stored in a standard fridge unlike the rival produced by Pfizer-BioNTech which means that this vaccine will be far better at reaching places like care homes. The elderly, care home residents and health care workers are set to be the priority groups for this new vaccination.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: ‘Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit. We would like to thank our many colleagues at AstraZeneca, Oxford University, the UK government and the tens of thousands of clinical trial participants.”
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group who led the clinical trial, said: “Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible.”
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford, said: “This is a great day for British science and a great day for universities everywhere. Above all, it is a great day for the many people whose lives will be saved by this vaccine. We are greatly indebted to those who have designed, developed, manufactured and evaluated ChAdOx1.”
This news comes as hospitals around the country and the NHS have been increasingly strained by an influx of COVID-19 cases.