Vaccine: Robert Jenrick addresses government’s ‘priority’
AstraZeneca is now preparing to roll out the vaccine it created alongside Oxford University, making the UK the second country to approve a home-brewed jab. According to news released today, the country could now expect an initial rollout by January 4, 2021. The vaccinations will complement ongoing programmes, as health workers continue to administer the US Pfizer jab.
How many Oxford vaccine doses will people need?
The Pfizer jab, which health workers have now administered to nearly one million people by Government reckoning, requires two doses for full efficacy.
People need one initial dose to prime the immune system followed by another two weeks later, which cements the inoculation.
The Pfizer jab uses a relatively new vaccination technique which programmes messenger RNA (mRNA), a type of nucleic acid, to ward off the virus.
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Oxford scientists took a different approach, opting instead to build their vaccine from an attenuated (weakened) strain of a common virus which infects chimpanzees.
Researchers have already used the well-established method to construct vaccines for other related viruses such as MERS.
Although the method of synthesis varies, doctors and nurses will administer it in the same way.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Government wants to deliver two million of its 100 million ordered doses within a fortnight.
The publication added they would do so by creating mass vaccination centres at conference centres and sports stadiums.
A Whitehall insider said the vaccine would be easier to unload than its American counterpart.
They said: “We are deploying as fast as we get the stuff in. The constraint is supply, not deployment.
“The protocol around Pfizer is really difficult, but with AstraZeneca, it’s much easier, it’s like the flu vaccine.”
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The Oxford vaccine doesn’t require the same storage protocols as Pfizer’s, which needs specified -70C fridges.
Hospitals and GP surgeries can store the jab in a standard fridge, making it cheaper for other, less well off countries.
Early impressions of the vaccine suggested it was less effective than others coming from the US.
In studies, a two-dose regime delivered just over 60 percent protection, while a half then full dose delivered 90.
Speaking yesterday, however, AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times his company’s jab is “up there with everybody else”.
He said: “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else.
“I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
The claims would mean Oxford’s vaccine could deliver up to 95 percent protection from Covid-19.
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