UK Becomes First to Approve Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

UK Becomes First to Approve Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
Vials with a sticker reading "COVID-19/Coronavirus vaccine/Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken on Oct. 31, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)
Alexander Zhang

Britain approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Wednesday, which was hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “a triumph for British science.”

The government said it had accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise the jab against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Experts at the MHRA concluded that the vaccine had met its strict standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness, the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement.

The prime minister said this was “truly fantastic news” and “a triumph for British science.”

“We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” he wrote on Twitter.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said hundreds of thousands of doses are ready for deployment next week, and then the numbers will "increase significantly after that."

"The hospitals across the country are ready. But we can also use this vaccine in primary care, we can take it to care homes. It just needs normal fridge temperature, rather than the minus 70 super-cold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires. So we'll get going on this from Monday," he told the BBC’s "Breakfast" programme.

The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, in addition to 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was approved on Dec. 2.

“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, much less likely to have symptoms from the disease," Hancock said.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer 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.”

AstraZeneca said the first doses of the vaccine are being released on Wednesday, and vaccinations may begin early in the New Year.

It's recommended that two doses of the vaccine are administered with an interval of between four and 12 weeks.

The company said it aims to supply millions of doses in the first quarter as part of an agreement with the government to supply up to 100 million doses in total.