Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine approved in UK

Thursday, 31 Dec, 2020

Britain became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as it battles a major winter surge driven by a new, highly contagious variant of the virus. The country is grappling with new strict lockdown measures in a bid to stifle the spread of a new coronavirus variant said to be more transmissible than previous strains.

Argentina has followed Britain to become only the second country to authorise the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the government said on Wednesday.

The decision is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

U.K. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said Wednesday that between the two vaccines, the government will be able to protect the entire population.

"The government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for use", the Health Ministry said.

In the U.S., there's a significant difference between the number of vaccines that have been distributed to various locations and the number of shots that have actually gone into arms. Previously, the agency had not recommended the shot for pregnant women.

The approval, by the medicines regulator, means the vaccine is both safe and effective.

Prof Van-Tam said there were also delays in the "fill and finish" of the vaccine - putting doses into glass vials - which was a "critically short resource across the globe".

Health Minister Robin Swann subsequently submitted an urgent written statement to the Assembly in which he said: "I fully agree and endorse this advice and from early January the main focus of the programme in Northern Ireland will be on ensuring as many people as possible receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine". He is chair of policy and communications for Britain's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine. It noted that two doses are needed for "maximum protection" against the disease, and that it has no data that shows protection from just one dose lasts longer than 21 days.

While the AstraZeneca vaccine involves injecting part of the virus's genetic code into a person to stimulate a response from the immune system, the United Kingdom jab will inject genes from SARS-Cov-2 via a genetically modified common cold virus. "But that is something which we have to look at".