The United Kingdom is likely to approve usage of the Covid-19 vaccine developed jointly by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford in this week.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the country will approve the vaccine for use imminently, said a report by the Financial Times quoting government officials. The report also quoted the officials that the approval could be granted as soon as Tuesday.
Another report published by the Sunday Telegraph, the approval could come at any time soon since health-care workers are preparing to administer the vaccine,
While there has been no comment on the issue from the regulator, the Reuters news agency quoted the UK’s Department of Health that proper assessment of the data from the vaccine’s trials will need time.
Nothing to this effect was however said in media interviews on Monday by cabinet minister Michael Gove but said that any approval of the vaccine could further speed up easing of the lockdowns imposed in the country which have essentially stopped Christmas celebrations for many millions in the country.
As on Sunday, the country recorded about 30,500 infections and 316 deaths but reporting delays could mean that those numbers were understated. There has been an increase in infections London and South England which has in turn increased pressure on hospitals. Scientist sin the country had earlier this month identified a new strain of the novel coronavirus that is more transmissible than the original one and has resulted in travel restrictions for those wanting to leave the country.
It could be as early as next week that the AstraZeneca Cvoid-19 vaccine could be rolled out if approval granted for its use and will add on to the already approved Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech which has been administered to 600,000 people in the country according to numbers issued by the government.
The currently on going inoculation program in the UK could be significantly boosted by the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate since it has been developed in the country. This vaccine is also much cheaper and easier to store and distribute compared to the other vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Compared to the other approved Covid-19 vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be used around the globe more effectively, said Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet medical journal, earlier this month.
“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the vaccine right now that is going to be able to immunize the planet more effectively, more rapidly than any other vaccine we have,” Horton said, and added that it was crucial to view about the global vaccine immunization program “because even if we immunize one country, the threat then is you reintroduce the virus from another country that is not protected.”
There were some criticism of the UK-based AstraZeneca which led to confusion around its trial data in November. According to indications from the data, the vaccine can be effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19, as well as in preventing severe illness and death. An efficacy level of 62 per cent for the vaccine was observed in the clinical trials after two full doses were administered to the participants in the trials while it displayed an efficacy level of 90 per cent on a sub group of participants who were first given half a dose and then a full dose.
An additional global trial to evaluate the efficacy of its vaccine will be run by the pharma giant, said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca,
“We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” he said. “I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
(Adapted from CNBC.com)