United Kingdom on Wednesday approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, becoming the first country to do so, reported Reuters.
“The government 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 country’s health ministry said. The roll out of the vaccine will begin on January 4, according to AFP.
In an official release, AstraZeneca said that the authorisation was for a two-dose regime and that the vaccine had been approved for use for emergency supply. UK has ordered 10 crore doses of the vaccine, which the company hoped to deliver by the first quarter of 2021.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted expressing happiness over the development. “It is truly fantastic news – and a triumph for British science – that the @UniofOxford/@AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use. We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” he tweeted.
The country’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that it was “a moment of hope.”
On Sunday, AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot had said the vaccine provides “100% protection” against severe Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation, reported AFP. During trials, the vaccine had shown an average 70% efficacy but that level jumped to 90% when a different dosage regimen was administered.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second one to be cleared by the UK, after the country approved a shot developed by United States’ pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on December 2. The roll out of that vaccine went underway in UK on December 8.
United Kingdom, along with South Africa, is currently grappling with new variants of the coronavirus, which are believed to be more contagious than the original strain. Many countries, including India, have suspended flight services from the UK, after patients were found to carry the new strain.
Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 8.19 crore people and killed over 17.88 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University.