The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, allowing for a rapid escalation of the country’s immunisation process.
Following approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Oxford vaccine will join the Pzfier/BioNTech jab in being rolled out in the UK.
Unlike its counterpart, the vaccine does not need to be stored at extreme temperatures, meaning it can be stored and transported far more easily. The country’s second approved vaccine will also be much cheaper than other candidates, with one jab believed to cost the government under £3.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the vaccine as “our way out of the pandemic”, saying that the news “brings forward the day we can get our lives back to normal.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) has recommended that the rollout focuses on administering as many vulnerable people as possible with the first dose, with no more than a twelve-week gap before receiving the second.
The vaccine boasts an overall efficacy of around 70%. A subgroup of the clinical trial found that a half dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least a month later could be up to 90% effective, although it was decided that there was not enough clear data to approve this method.
On the day after the UK’s highest-ever daily total of new Covid-19 cases, the Oxford vaccine arrives at time of great necessity for the country, and indeed, the world.
With rollout set to begin on the 4th January, there is still a long battle ahead, but the news of a cheap, easy-to-store vaccine could very well be looked back upon as the key turning point in our route out of the coronavirus pandemic.