UK rolls out Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Jan. 4, 2021

The U.K. began administering COVID-19 vaccines developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca today, making it the first nation in the world to start using the shot.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorized emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine last week, despite lingering skepticism about the drugmaker's dosing claims. According to the AstraZeneca, data published last month showed that when patients were given two full doses of the shot, its efficacy was about 62 percent. However, when patients received a half dose followed by a full dose, the efficacy shot up to 90 percent. Experts have speculated that the efficacy discrepancy could be related to a potency miscalculation by Oxford researchers. AstraZeneca is expected to release more data to support the higher efficacy claims. 

The new vaccine will be administered at a small number of hospitals for the first few days so authorities can watch out for any adverse reactions, according to AP news. The NHS is then planning to open hundreds of new vaccination sites later this week.

The rollout of the new vaccine comes as the UK is battling a surge in infections attributed to new virus variant that health authorities have said is much more contagious.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second vaccine made available in the UK.  In early December, the U.K. became the first Western country to start inoculating its population with the vaccine developed by New York-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.