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