London, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom’s government on Wednesday accepted the medicines and health regulatory body’s recommendation to authorize the use of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the health ministry said.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave the green light for the vaccine to be used on people 18 years and over with two standard doses.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, said it was “truly fantastic news” and a “triumph for British science.”
It is the second vaccine to be approved in the UK following the Pfizer-BioNTech jab on 8 December, the rollout of which is already underway and has been given to at least 800,000 people in the country.
The UK has an advanced order for enough Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines to inoculate 50 million people.
The UK’s health ministry said in a statement that the National Health Service would from Wednesday give priority to administering the first dose of the vaccine to high-risk groups.
“With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation,” the statement added.
The MHRA said the vaccine would be administered in two standard doses between four to 12 weeks apart. The regulatory body said the vaccine showed an effectiveness rate of up to 80% when the doses were given three months apart.
Speaking at an MHRA press conference Wednesday, Sir Munir Piromohamed, the NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool, said that partial immunity did not appear until 22 days after the first dose of the vaccine.
People with a history of allergic reactions to any of the ingredients in the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine should not get the jab but there are no recommendations against taking it if the patient has a history of allergies to food or other medicines.
The MHRA also updated its guidelines for the Pfizer-BioNTech to apply the same allergy recommendations, reversing previous advice that anyone with a history of allergic reactions to food or medicine avoid it.
One of the main differences between the two vaccines, Piromohamed said, was that, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab did not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
It can be stored between 2C-8C, a temperature range similar to that of a household fridge, for at least six months, which makes it more accessible.
The news comes just as the UK grapples with a contagious new variant of the coronavirus and a skyrocketing number of daily cases. Health authorities on Tuesday logged more than 50,000 Covid-19 cases in a single day as well as 414 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
It was the highest daily jump in infection figures since the pandemic began. EFE-EPA