By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Kingdom on Wednesday, December 30 authorised the use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, which would be rolled out from next week.
The British government disclosed that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) has made an emergency authorisation for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker, AstraZeneca.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses, enough to vaccinate 50 million people, which along with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, is enough to cover the entire population.
The country’s Health Secretary, Mr Matt Hancock, said the development was a significant moment in the fight against the virus, noting that the government can now vaccinate everyone.
“We’ve got enough of this vaccine in order to vaccinate the whole population – 100 million doses. Add that to the 30 million doses of Pfizer and that’s enough for two doses for the entire population,” he added.
AstraZeneca chief executive, Mr Pascal Soriot, said “today is an important day for millions of people in the UK, who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.”
He added: “We would like to thank our many colleagues at AstraZeneca, Oxford University, the UK government and the tens of thousands of clinical trial participants.”
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was designed in the first months of 2020, tested on the first volunteer in April, and has since been through large-scale clinical trials involving thousands of people.
It has been developed at a pace that would have been unthinkable before the pandemic.
It is the second jab to be approved in the UK after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given the go-ahead earlier in December.
This comes as millions of more people in England are expected to be placed under tier four – “stay at home” – coronavirus restrictions amid escalating case numbers.
On Tuesday, 53,135 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the UK – the highest single-day rise since mass testing began – as well as 414 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
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