The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority in the United Kingdom has finally given the green light for the vaccine jointly by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC to be distributed and administered to people with the highest risk for COVID-19 in the UK.
After this approval, 4 million doses will be immediately shipped to the UK in the next few days. To fulfill the United Kingdom’s order of 100 million doses, licensed factories located within the nation will handle the production in order to enhance availability and speed up manufacturing.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the United Kingdom said that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be quickly made available for those who bear the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. Because of its minimal refrigeration requirements, the vaccine can be easily rolled out to GP practices and care homes.
The approval comes after the UK’s joint committee on vaccination and immunization decided that people in the at-risk groups should be prioritized for their first dose of the either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, and that the authorities should not hurry on the second dose of the jab.
“Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first,” a DHSC spokesperson said, adding that the second dose is “important for longer term protection” and is needed in order to complete the vaccination course.
The DHSC also assured the public that it has followed “rigorous clinical trials” and undertook a “thorough analysis” of the data gathered by the company during its trial sessions with volunteers before it gave the green light to the new vaccine.
“The vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”, the DHSC said.
The UK Secretary of Health, Matt Hancock, praised the decision to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine. He hailed it as a “way out” of the uncertainties and fear caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am now, with this approval this morning, highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring,” he said.
Mr. Hancock said that the next few weeks will be very difficult, because of the new variant of the COVID-19. He acknowledged the pressure placed on the NHS, and called on the people to follow the rules and do their part in keeping the virus from spreading further in the United Kingdom.
“The vaccine provides that route out. We have all just got to hold our nerve over the weeks to come,” he urged the UK public.
The approval of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine took a bit more time than the approval for the Pfizer mRNA vaccine due to the former’s volume of testing data and trial results. Experts had to take more time to browse through the dossier of clinical trial information provided by AstraZeneca than they did with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Oxford Vaccine Group director Prof. Andrew Pollard hailed the approval as a “landmark moment.” He said that, in time, the world will “start to get ahead of the pandemic.”