Second Covid-19 vaccine approved in UK for mass rollout
A Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca has become the second coronavirus jab to be approved for use in the UK, paving the way for mass rollout next week.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – the UK’s second vaccine.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 50 million people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the approval is “fantastic news” and confirmed the rollout will begin on January 4.
He said: “This is a moment to celebrate British innovation – not only are we responsible for discovering the first treatment to reduce mortality for Covid-19, this vaccine will be made available to some of the poorest regions of the world at a low cost, helping protect countless people from this awful disease.
“It is a tribute to the incredible UK scientists at Oxford University and AstraZeneca whose breakthrough will help to save lives around the world.”
The vaccine comes amid increasing strain on hospitals in England, where the number of Covid-19 patients is the highest it has been during the pandemic.
Mr Hancock is due to announce any changes to tier areas in a statement to the Commons on Wednesday.
With case rates rising in all regions of England, and record patient numbers, any changes are likely to involve areas moving up a tier rather than down.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman added: “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.
“This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”
On Monday, December 28 Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), described the vaccine as a “game changer” but said it would take until summer to vaccinate enough people for herd immunity – when the virus struggles to circulate.