U.K. becomes first country to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
UK first approves COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca
The UK became the first country in the world on Wednesday to approve a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca as the country grapples with a sharp winter spike in infection from a new and highly contagious variant of the coronavirus..
«The government today accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to allow the use of the COVID-19 vaccine University of Oxford / AstraZeneca», – health ministry said.
The UK is already introducing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In response to a change in approach, the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunizations (JCVI) stated that the priority should be to give as many people at risk as possible their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses as soon as possible..
Minister of Health Matt Hancock said the MHRA will provide more details on the dosing regimen later on Wednesday.
The regulatory approval is a welcome boost for AstraZeneca and the Oxford team, who are accused of lack of clarity on the late-stage test results..
«Today is an important day for the millions of people in the UK who will have access to this new vaccine, said CEO of AstraZeneca Pascal Sorio. – Proven to be effective, well tolerated, easy to use and supplied by AstraZeneca at no extra charge».
The combined test results show that its overall efficacy was 70.4%. Efficacy was 62% for trial participants who received two full doses, but 90% for a smaller subgroup receiving half and then full dose.
Finding 90% of the effectiveness of the low / high dose regimen requires more research, the researchers said. AstraZeneca did not clarify which dosing regimen was approved.
«To get out of this catastrophe, there is no alternative to the large majority of the population having high levels of neutralizing antibodies. Today’s announcement makes it possible – said Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London. – I suspect that this will speed up the process by several months. Creating an immune population by spring becomes real».
The pandemic has already killed 1.7 million people worldwide, wreaked havoc on the global economy, and turned the normal life of billions upside down since it began in Wuhan, China a year ago..
In particular, the UK and South Africa are battling new variants of the coronavirus that governments and scientists say are more infectious. Many countries responded by banning passenger flights and blocking trade with these countries..
UK government minister Michael Gove said on Monday that the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could expedite the lifting of strict restrictions in the country that effectively canceled the Christmas holidays for millions of Britons.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector inoculation that is based on an attenuated version of the common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees. It is designed to prepare the immune system for an attack by the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, if it later infects the body.
«The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine right now is a vaccine that can immunize the planet more effectively and faster than any other vaccine we have, Horton said, adding that it is important to think about vaccine immunization globally. – Because even if we do immunization in one country, the threat will be that the virus will be re-introduced from another unprotected country».