LONDON: Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s low-cost Covid vaccine, raising hopes it will help tackle rising cases and ease pressure on creaking health services, reports AFP.
The independent Medicines and Healthcare products and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the vaccine “met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”, and a roll-out was set for January 4.Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent several days in intensive care with Covid earlier this year, called it “truly fantastic news” and “a triumph for British science”.
“We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” he tweeted.
Britain has already approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for general use, and some 800,000 people have received a first dose in the country’s biggest ever vaccination drive.
But as daily Covid infection rates hit record highs, the government is pinning its hopes on the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which is cheaper to produce, and easier to store and transport. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, it does not require ultra-low freezing temperatures and can use normal refrigerated supply chains, making it a more attractive proposition globally..