Health officials in the United Kingdom have officially authorized the AstraZeneca-Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine for distribution. The vaccine was approved this Wednesday, and marks the second vaccine in the UK approved for public distribution.
The government is expected to begin rolling out the vaccine on Monday. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is much more inexpensive and easier to store when compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been approved in the US. The UK ordered 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine which will be enough to vaccinate 50 million citizens; which equates to about three-quarters of the country’s population.
The government has already given out its initial doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to over 600,000 UK residents. UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, spoke with the media on Wednesday as well, claiming that between the two vaccines, the government should be able to fully protect the entire population.
The approval of this second vaccine couldn’t have come at a better time for the country, as the UK is currently battling one of the worst waves of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. With a new Covid-19 strain spreading rapidly around the UK as well, it’s expected that millions of residents will be placed under strict new lockdown measures soon; the vaccines protect against the new strain, however, the new strain is proving to give patients a much more severe case of Covid-19, so minimizing the spread is top priority.
England just recently reported a new single-day record of new Covid-19 cases with 53,000 new cases appearing on Wednesday alone; likely due to the new strain that scientists are claiming is harder to control and more transmissible than the standard coronavirus we’ve been battling all year. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the press this week to hopefully ease some nerves and reinforce that the second vaccine’s approval is an amazing step for the nation.
“The second vaccine’s approval is truly fantastic news. We now just have to move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in the sense that it will require two doses to be truly effective. For this specific vaccine the second dose is required to be given 12 weeks after the first; for comparison both Pfizer and Moderna’s two doses are administered within 30 days of one another.
AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, released a statement this week in which he claimed that the vaccine “has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer, and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.”
Trials have shown that the AstraZeneca vaccine has a 62% effectiveness, which may be staggering for those who have seen Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have a 95% effectiveness, however, in all of the cases that appeared during the trial, none were serious, and even after individuals received just half of the two doses of the vaccine it still proved to be 90% effective against the coronavirus. The vaccine is expected to reach millions of residents next week once it begins distribution.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.