- The U.K. has become the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
- The new vaccine comes in two doses, which are administered 12 weeks apart and can be stored at temperatures between two to eight degrees celsius
- With a second vaccine now approved, the government plans to accelerate its widespread vaccination effort, which has already administered the competing BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to hundreds of thousands of high-risk individuals
- New daily cases of the virus in the U.K. reached over 53,000 on Wednesday, and the nation’s death toll currently sits at over 71,000
The U.K. has become the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, bringing another COVID-19 treatment into the fold to combat the nation’s rapidly rising case numbers.
The new vaccine comes in two doses and can be stored at temperatures from two to eight degrees, a major advantage on the competing BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, which requires a much cooler environment to remain effective.
The U.K. government has ordered around 100 million doses of the newly approved vaccine, which was developed with the help of government-led funding.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the approval of the Oxford vaccine is a massive step forward in the government’s fight against coronavirus.
“It is a tribute to the incredible U.K. 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,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.K. health authorities are continuing to enact a widespread vaccination effort, administering the already approved BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to hundreds of thousands of high-risk individuals, including the elderly and frontline health care workers.
With a second vaccine now approved, the government plans to accelerate its vaccination effort, starting in the new year.
The need for a second vaccine has proven even more pressing in recent weeks, as a new strain of COVID-19 continues to run rampant throughout much of the U.K. Concerns over the new strain, which appears to be more contagious, have already triggered a number of countries to impose renewed travel restrictions on the U.K.
New daily cases of the virus in the U.K. reached a record-breaking 53,135 on Wednesday, and the nation’s death toll currently sits at over 71,000.