“The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is a great British success story, involving our very best minds at every stage across every part of the UK,” declared UK Business Secretary soon after the crucial second vaccine against Covid-19 got the go-ahead for rollout in the New Year.
The India-born minister behind the 100 million pre-ordered doses of the life-saving jabs hailed the truly global spirit with which the “gamechanger” vaccine has been developed, making it available to some of the poorest nations of the world.
He said: “As a result of significant government investment, not only has the vaccine been developed on home turf, but we have built a robust supply chain across the country to ensure the UK will be the first in the world to receive this vaccine.
“Thanks to the determination and sheer ingenuity of our incredible scientists, this vaccine will save very many lives at home and protect those in some of the world’s poorest nations, helping to bring this global pandemic to an end.”
The vaccine, which was backed by significant government funding, will be available for free across the UK through the thousands of vaccinators deployed by the .
Sharma added: “From our researchers and manufacturers, to the thousands of trial volunteers and NHS staff who’ll administer this life-saving vaccine to those most in need, your country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. Your unwavering spirit will go down in history.”
The becomes the second Covid-19 vaccine, after the jabs, to be authorised for use in the UK, allowing a significant expansion of the immunisation programme with hundreds more vaccination sites opening in the coming weeks and months to protect those most at risk from the virus.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concludes that it is highly effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly, and vaccinations will mark a great start to 2021 as it begins rolling out from January 4.
Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs, the Oxford vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, between two to eight degrees, making it easier to distribute to care homes and other locations across the UK.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines are the exit route from the pandemic. We have already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people and the new Oxford jab will allow us to accelerate our vaccination plan, allowing us to return to normality in the future.
“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.”
Under updated guidance, the NHS will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups, with the second dose due to be administered within 12 weeks after the first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.