The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has been authorized for emergency use in the U.K., marking another step in the global battle against the pandemic.
The shot is expected to be rolled out next week and will be added to a Covid19 immunization program started by Britain in December. So far, the PfizerBioNTech vaccine has been given to 600,000 people in the U.K., according to government statistics.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said the first doses of the vaccine were being released Wednesday so that vaccinations may begin early in the New Year.
It added that it aims to supply millions of doses in the first quarter as part of its deal with the U.K. government to supply up to 100 million doses in total. As a twodose vaccine, the agreement means up to 50 million people in the U.K., which has a population of around 66 million, could be inoculated.
However, the U.K. government said in a statement Wednesday that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises it on immunization programs, had recommended that the priority should be to give as many people in atrisk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection, it added.
U.K. government minister Michael Gove had said Monday that…