By: Sumaya Hussein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thumbnail photo courtesy of The Times.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved by the UK medicines regulator, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). This makes it the second vaccine to be approved in the UK after Pfizer.
The approval by the body of the came after weeks of examining trial data by experts and it was concluded that the vaccine met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
The vaccination programme will start on Monday and will aim to reach millions of people in at-risk categories as quickly as possible.
The new variant of the virus causing high rates of infection has made vaccination much more urgent. The government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunization (JCVI) has advised that priority should be to give as many at-risk groups their first dose of either the Oxford or Pfizer vaccine, other than providing two doses in four weeks.
“Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for long term protection,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
AstraZeneca said its vaccine would be made available to some of the poorest regions of the world at low cost and not being manufactured for profit. CEO of the company, Pascal Soriot, said AstraZeneca could provide the UK with up to 2 million doses a week and would start shipping the first doses “today or tomorrow”.
“The good news with this is we are going to be able to inject a lot of people with one dose very quickly, provide them with a reasonably good dose of protection until they get their second dose two to three months later. That will enable us to protect more people because we can wait two to three months for the second dose,” added Soriot.
The UK has ordered 100m doses of the vaccine and eventually, all adults will be offered, according to Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary.
“Because we’ve got enough of this vaccine on order to vaccine the whole population – we’ve got 100m doses on order- add that to the 30m doses of Pfizer and that’s enough for two doses for the entire population,” he said in an interview on BBC Breakfast.
“So I can now say with confidence that we can vaccinate everyone except of course for children because this vaccine has not been trialled on children and anyway children are much less likely to have symptoms from the disease,” he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, celebrated the news as “truly fantastic news and a triumph for British science”.
“We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.” he tweeted.