Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Use in UK

The vaccine is also being produced in India under the name ‘Covishield’ by the Serum Institute of India.

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The Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the United Kingdom.

"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 UK government said on Wednesday, 30 December.

The UK ordered a 100 million doses of the vaccine, of which it has received the first batch that has been kept in factories for storage. In the next few days, four million vaccines are expected to be ready for inoculation, reported The Guardian.


Cheaper, Easier To Store

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper to mass produce and obtain since it only needs normal refrigeration between 2-8 degree Celcius, unlike its counterpart Pfizer-BioNTech which requires a -70 degree storage.

It’ll be easier to transport and store the vaccine and the rollout to GP surgeries and care homes would be swift, reported BBC.

AstraZeneca said they are not manufacturing for profit and will make its vaccine available at a low cost especially for some of the poorest regions in the world, reported The Guardian.

Focus On Giving Everyone The First Dose

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has already identified priority groups of healthcare workers and elderly citizens. They have recommended a strategy to inoculate as many people as possible with the first dose of the vaccine to give those most at risk protection from COVID-19.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "The priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible. Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first," quoted BBC.

The vaccine shots require two doses, with an interval between four to 12 weeks. Both the doses are important to offer complete protection. The trials so far have not reported any severe side effects or hospitalisation for more than 14 days after the second dose, claimed AstraZeneca.


Efficacy Of The Vaccine

So far, the trial results indicate that the efficacy of the vaccine is 62% after receiving the two full doses of the vaccine in the largest trial they carried out of 11,636 people, reported The Guardian.

The vaccine had 90% efficacy in a smaller trial of 2,741 people where participants received a half dose shot and a full shot four weeks after. Therefore, there is not enough published data to support the half-dose, full-dose vaccine combination, reported BBC.

The two full doses method has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) .

The vaccine is also being produced in India under the name 'Covishield' by the Serum Institute of India, which had applied for emergency use authorisation to India's drug regulator a few days back.

Earlier, the UK had given approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for rollout in December, becoming the first country to approve the said vaccine as well as the first Western country to approve a vaccine against COVID-19. Over 6,00,000 people have been inoculated in the UK so far.

(With inputs from BBC and The Guardian)

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