Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, hoping that rapid action would help it stem a surge of infections driven by a highly contagious variant of the virus.
Boris Johnson’s government, which has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, has jumped ahead of other Western countries with its vaccination programme.
It was the first to approve a shot developed by Pfizer of the United States and Germany’s BioNTech, with the result that hundreds of thousands of people were vaccinated in Britain before European Union countries and the United States even began administering it this month.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford shot, unlikely to be approved for some time by EU or U.S. regulators, will start being administered on Monday, beginning with those most at risk from COVID-19.
While the approval by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is a vindication for a shot seen as essential for mass immunisations in the developing world as well as in Britain, it does not eliminate questions about trial data that make it unlikely to be approved so rapidly in the European Union or the United States.
LONDON (Reuters), 30 Dec, 2020