A coronavirus vaccine developed by drug company AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been approved for use in the UK, the government said on Wednesday. The mass rollout will begin on January 4th.
The vaccine can be stored, transported, and handled under normal refrigeration conditions and is therefore cheaper and easier to administer than the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna batches, which must be frozen.
Britain will be the first nation to kick off on Jan. 4, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said amid growing concerns that another dangerous surge in infections threatens to overwhelm the NHS.
“Brilliant to end 2020 with such a moment of hope,” Hancock tweeted.
“The #coronavirus vaccine is our way out of the pandemic – now we have to hold our nerves as we get through this together.”
The government said in a previous statement that it “accepted today the recommendation by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to approve Oxford University / AstraZeneca University of Covid-19 vaccine for use.
“This follows rigorous clinical studies and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine meets its strict safety, quality and efficacy standards,” said the spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
On Sunday, Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said the vaccine would offer “100 percent protection” against serious Covid illnesses that require hospitalization.
He predicted that studies would show his company had achieved vaccine efficacy equal to Pfizer-BioNTech at 95 percent and Moderna at 94.5 percent.
Previous studies had shown mixed results regarding the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca shot.
The vaccine originally showed an average effectiveness of 70 percent, but that value rose to 90 percent depending on the dosing schedule.
Behind that average number from large-scale studies in the UK and Brazil, there was an effectiveness of 62 percent for those vaccinated with two full shot doses.
However, the vaccine was found to be 90 percent effective in volunteers who received a half dose first and a full dose a month later.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)