Good News! Oxford University and AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Approved.
MHRA announced approval for the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca vaccine to cheer up the last few days of 2020.
The approval of a second vaccine is indeed good news for everyone in the UK. It will take some time to roll out vaccinations with the two approved vaccines by Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca, but many more vaccine doses will now be available going into the New Year. The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will also be much easier to manage than the Pfizer one as it can be transported and kept at normal refrigeration temperatures rather than the minus 70 degrees needed for transport of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
We understand that vaccination roll-out will follow similar plans for both vaccines and will prioritise those in older age groups, NHS front line staff and care home staff as well as those most at risk due to underlying medical conditions. Both vaccines require two doses for best immunity. However current advice is to prioritise rolling out dose 1 as quickly as possible as a high level of immunity follows within a few days. Dose 2 of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine can be given up to 3 months after the first dose, giving more flexibility in timing for the second dose with this vaccine. While both vaccines offer some immunity after the first dose, more complete immunity is expected only after two doses. For those who have been vaccinated with one dose at present the advice to give two doses remains. The duration of immunity still needs to be established but at this stage both the efficacy and the duration of immunity looks similar for both vaccines if administered as in the original trials using two doses.
Different vaccines cannot be mixed so anyone who has had a first dose will need to receive the same vaccine for the second dose.
New advice on vaccination for people who have allergies has been issued but at present it is only those who are allergic to the specific components of the vaccines who will be advised to hold back on vaccination at this time. Both vaccines are thought to be safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women, but discussion and advice from doctors will be offered before vaccination for those who are any of the pregnancy, breast feeding or allergy categories.
Clearly, we will learn more about these vaccines as they are used more widely and about other vaccines as they are rolled out. More information on vaccination can be obtained on the NHS and World Health Organisation (WHO) web site.