After Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine approved in UK
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has been approved for use in the United Kingdom. This would help boost the immunization program in the UK, which has already approved and rolled out the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The vaccine is also under consideration for roll out in India as 'Covishield' under a partnership with the Serum Institute of India.
Vaccinations expected to start next week
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday approved the Oxford University-AstraZeneca's vaccine, declaring the vaccine safe and effective. The vaccine is reportedly expected to be rolled out next week. The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, which would be enough to vaccinate 50 million people as it is a two-dose vaccine.
Over 6 lakh vaccinated by Pfizer's shot in UK
Earlier in December, the UK had approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for use in the country. Since 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first in the world to get that vaccine outside of a clinical trial on December 8, over six lakh people in the UK have received the vaccine. However, AstraZeneca's vaccine is cheaper and easier to mass-produce compared to Pfizer's shot.
Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine can be stored in standard fridge
Notably, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses need to be stored at temperatures as low as -70°C, which requires expensive ultra-cold storage. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in a standard fridge, making vaccine delivery more feasible.
How was the vaccine made?
The potential vaccine consists of the replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector (ChAdOx1) based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) containing the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the spike protein produced triggers an immune response that offers protection against future SARS-CoV-2 infections. The vaccine has been found to have an average efficacy of 70%.
When will the vaccine be approved in India?
Covishield is among the potential vaccines awaiting emergency approval in India. Reportedly, it is expected to be approved in the coming days. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that the vaccine will be rolled out in India by January. The institute is aiming to make 300 million doses by July 2021 and 40-50 million doses have already been prepared, Poonawalla has said.