AstraZeneca, UK Celebrate Vaccine ApprovalBy Alejandro Salas | Wed, 12/30/2020 - 16:23
On Dec. 30, the UK government granted the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine emergency approval following the recommendation of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
After being the first to approve the Pfizer development to start vaccination programs, the UK is now the first to approve a second vaccine against COVID-19. This will allow the government to double its vaccination efforts. According to Matt Hancock, UK Health and Social Care Secretary, the new vaccine will be rolled out on Jan. 4, reported Sky News. The UK has already secured 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca development, which will add to the 30 million already secured from Pfizer, according to CNN.
An official statement from the UK government reads that the priority now that a second vaccine is available will be to administer a first dose to as many people as possible, instead of providing two doses in a shorter timeframe. “The approval of the Oxford vaccine is a massive step forward in our fight against coronavirus. It is a tribute to the incredible UK scientists at Oxford University and AstraZeneca, whose breakthrough will help to save lives around the world. The light at the end of the tunnel just got brighter,” said Hancock.
While AstraZeneca’s development is also a two-dose vaccine just like Pfizer’s, its advantage is that it can be stored at a temperature of 2.8°C for at least six months, according to a press release from the company. “The vaccine was 70.4 percent (confidence interval: 54.8 percent to 80.6 percent) effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 occurring more than 14 days after receiving two doses of the vaccine. A secondary efficacy endpoint of prevention of severe disease demonstrated no cases of severe infections or hospitalizations in the vaccine group,” said the company in a statement. In comparison, the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective but it must be stored at a temperature of -70°C to -80°C, according to a previous MBN article.
“Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit. We would like to thank our many colleagues at AstraZeneca, Oxford University, the UK government and the tens of thousands of clinical trial participants,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, in the company’s statement.
While still pending approval, Mexico has already secured access to the AstraZeneca vaccine. MBN reported the country is in line to receive 77.4 million does of this development, which will add to Pfizer’s 35.5 million doses and CanSino’s 35 million. Furthermore, Mexico, together with Argentina, is already earmarked as the production site for the vaccine in Latin America. The agreement signed between Fundación Slim and AstraZeneca contemplates 150 to 250 million doses for Latin America meant to start production in 1Q21, according to a previous MBN article. The Mexican pharma Liomont will be the one in charge of completion for final distribution in Mexico after the API is manufactured in Argentina, reported Reuters.