The United Kingdom, on Wednesday, became the first country in the world to give clearance to the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca, as it battles a major surge during winter driven by a new, highly contagious variant of the virus.
AstraZeneca said the approval of the vaccine, which will be key to mass immunizations, was for a 2 dose regime and had been authorized for emergency supply. The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
According to a report from Reuters, this disclosure was made in a statement from the UK Health Ministry on Wednesday, December 30, 2020.
The vaccine, which is the second to be approved in the UK, after that of Pfizer/BioNTech, will be prioritized for the country’s most vulnerable groups early in the new year, according to statements from the company and the government.
The Health Ministry in its statement said,
- “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use.’’
This move will help the UK ramp up vaccination against the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed about 1.7 million people around the world, devastated the global economy and caused a lot of disruptions to normal lives for billions.
The UK has invested more in this vaccine, which had faced safety issues during its clinical trials, more than other shots. The vaccine can be deployed immediately because it is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, as it requires only refrigerator temperatures rather than deep freezing.
Some countries have restricted international flights from the UK and South Africa specifically, currently battling with a new strain of the coronavirus, which government sources and scientists say is more infectious.
AstraZeneca and other developers have said they are studying the impact of the new variant but expect that their shots will be effective against it.
What you should know
- This regulatory approval will come as a huge boost for AstraZeneca and the Oxford team, which has been accused of a lack of clarity about the results from late-stage trials.
- The results gotten from those trials showed its overall efficacy was 70.4%, considering that the efficacy was 62% for trial participants given 2 full doses, but 90% for a smaller sub-group given a half, then a full dose.
- Researchers said that the 90% efficacy for the low-dose/high-dose regime needed more investigation. AstraZeneca did not specify which dose regime had been approved.