UK approves easy-to-handle Oxford vaccine for COVID

Dec 30, 2020 (LBO) – The United Kingdom has authorised the use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to approve of an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world”, foreign media reported.

The University of Oxford welcomes the news that the UK Government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise the emergency use of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 coronavirus vaccine in the UK.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive this vaccine, with this announcement indicating that the JCVI has advised the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.

The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection, and everyone will still receive their second dose within 12 weeks of their first, an approach the JCVI believes will maximise the benefits of this vaccine, ensuring at-risk people are able to get meaningful protection and ease the pressure on the UK National Health Service.

The Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus), that has been genetically changed so that it is safe and impossible for it to grow in humans. It is stable, easily manufactured, transported and stored at domestic fridge temperature (2-8 degrees C), so can be easily administered in existing healthcare settings, allowing for the vaccine to be deployed very rapidly.

Oxford University’s collaboration with AstraZeneca has been crucial to the successful development of the vaccine and vital for its global manufacturing and distribution across the world. AstraZeneca already has international agreements in place to supply three billion doses of the vaccine, with access being built through more than 30 supply agreements and partner networks.

A key element of Oxford’s partnership with AstraZeneca is the joint commitment to provide the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic across the world, and in perpetuity to low- and middle-income countries.