UK Approves Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
This comes just weeks after the country became the first in the world to start inoculating its citizens. Earlier in December, the UK health regulator approved the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine which is said to be 95 percent effective.
In a statement on Tuesday, UK government said the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the new COVID-19 vaccine following “rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA”.
It added that the vaccine had met “strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”.
The approval comes as the country battles a major winter surge driven by a new, highly contagious variant of the virus.
The statement added;
The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan and decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes. It has already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of patients with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its roll out will continue. Now the NHS will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Previously, the team developing the vaccine said it had an “an average efficacy of 70%,” with one dosing regimen showing an efficacy of 90%.
AstraZeneca has promised to supply hundreds of millions of doses to low and middle-income countries, and to deliver the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis to those nations in perpetuity.
The vaccine is significantly cheaper than the others and, crucially, it would be far easier to transport and distribute in developing countries than its rivals since it does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures.
Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be kept at refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months.
Moderna’s vaccine has to be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) or at refrigerator temperatures for up to 30 days, while Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at minus 75 degrees Celsius (minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit), and used within five days once refrigerated at higher temperatures.
“Cold chain” refrigeration is the standard storage used globally to deliver vaccines from central locations to local health clinics.
UK is said to have ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine which will be administered on 50 million people — two doses each.
The pandemic has infected over 82 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.7 million.