United Kingdom Rolls out the Worlds First Vaccine of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine
Britain on Wednesday became the first county in the World to be approved for the COVID vaccine developed by AstraZenca along with Oxford University. This is done with hopes that there will be a significantly rapid reaction to the surge of infections seen from a new highly contagious form of the Coronavirus.
Britain has seen over 70,000 deaths and on Tuesday, December 29th saw a record one-day jump of 53,135 new infections.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is believed to be a game-changer. It is less expensive and can be stored and transported under normal refrigeration, rather than the Pfizer vaccine which must be supercooled to -94 degrees Fahrenheit or -70 degrees Celsius. This has presented a huge problem in places other than hospitals and such.
However, the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot has been overwhelmed with questions and concerns about the effective dosing schedules following the release of its data showing less than an 80% success rate for the administration of two full doses – three months apart. In fact, the Oxford-AstraZenca Vaccine showed a 62% effectiveness – although the cases of those infected had zero serious illness needing hospital treatment. This means, that the severity of infection was far less critical.
Additionally, trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed that when people were given a half dose then a full dose, effectiveness hit 90%. But there was not enough clear data to approve the half-dose, full-dose idea. Unpublished data may suggest that leaving a longer gap between the first and second doses increases the overall effectiveness of the vaccine. In the group given the vaccine this way, there was nearly a 70% effectiveness after the first dose.
It appears that according to this data, the MHRA believes that it has found an 80% success rater for the administration of two full doses, three months apart, higher than the average the developers themselves had found. All the vaccines are expected to be equally effective against the new variants of the virus that have emerged.
Jeremy Farrar indicated that the approval of the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot was a day of celebration. Mr. Farrar, one of Britain’s leading public health experts, however, urged the need for continuing scrutiny and data on when the best timing of the second dose would be recommended. He indicated that a randomized trial would be needed.
Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute, believes that there remain questions regarding the efficacy of the vaccine. He pointed out concerns about how it works in the elderly, and what data exists to support the change in dosage interval.
“In light of the sharply increasing number of cases, the approval… is tremendous news,” Jonathan Stoye said. “However, the reported news does leave unanswered a number of important questions, particularly regarding the longer term.”
This statement was made following the approval of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca along with Oxford University. The approval of this vaccine was made by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) who believes this shot is essential for mass immunizations during this pandemic and accordingly as a response to the surge of infections. It is believed that due to some of the questions in the trial data, it would not have been approved so rapidly by the European Medicines Authority (EMA) or the United States.
Pfizer COVID Vaccine
As part of the Pfizer mass vaccination program, A UK grandmother became the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 soon said the vaccine was the “best early birthday present”.
So far, over 400,000 doses have been given and another 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be dispensed in the coming weeks. Up to four million more doses are expected by the end of the month.
The rollout in the UK includes vaccinating those in their 80 and older along with healthcare staff and others.