The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has been authorized for emergency use in the U.K.The shot is expected to be rolled out next week and would be added to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which has so far been given to 600,000 people in the U.K., according to government statistics. “Govt has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use,” the UK Govt said.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said the first doses of the vaccine were being released Wednesday “so that vaccinations may begin early in the New Year.” It added that it “aims to supply millions of doses in the first quarter” as part of its deal with the U.K. government to supply up to 100 million doses in total.
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The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was already lining up thousands of medics and volunteers to be ready to deliver jabs up and down the country.
The vaccine, which also has a tie-up with the Serum Institute of India, was being evaluated by the MHRA after the final cut of data was submitted by the government last Monday.
It comes as a senior UK scientist pinpointed the Oxford vaccine as a real gamechanger, which could see the country achieve herd immunity as a result of vaccination against the deadly virus by the summer months of 2021.
“The people that have been vaccinated will be protected within a matter of weeks and that’s very important,” Professor Calum Semple, a respiratory disease expert and member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC.
Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the jab, with 40 million expected to be available by the end of March.
AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot has stressed that researchers have found the “winning formula” using two doses of the vaccine, ahead of the final results being published.
He has raised hopes that the jabs are more effective than first thought and should be effective against a new variant of the coronavirus that is now causing havoc in most parts of the UK.
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