UK Approves AstraZenca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine

UK regulators have approved the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The move comes after the country got hit by a contagious variant of the virus. AstraZeneca said that the approval is for the two dosage regime of the vaccine and the country has ordered around 100 million doses of the vaccine.

“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorize Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use,” UK’s healthy ministry said. According to the reports, 530,000 doses will be available next week and citizens will be invited to the vaccination centers around the country. Care home residents and care home workers are going to be in the first set of the priority list for the vaccine shot. The second set of people includes frontline health & social care workers and people above 80 age.

AstraZeneca stated that the vaccine can be stored and transported at the normal refrigeration temperature for over six months’ and can be accordingly rolled out in the healthcare facilities. The pharmaceutical company said that currently it is examining its vaccine effectiveness to the new variant of the virus which has severely impacted Britain and South Africa. It adds that the vaccine is expected to be effective against the new variant too. This vaccine has engendered a feeling of hope and its economical which has helped it to generate popularity across the globe.

Matt Hancock, UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said in a statement that “This is a moment to celebrate British innovation- not only are we responsible for discovering the first treatment to reduce mortality for Covid-19, this vaccine will be made available to some of the poorest regions of the world at a low cost, helping protect countless people from this awful disease.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it is a ‘’triumph” for British science.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot thanked colleagues at Oxford University, thousands of participants, and the UK government for the success of the vaccine. He added that the vaccine “has shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer, and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.” On Wednesday, the UK recorded 53,135 fresh new COVID-19 cases which is the highest single-day spike recorded in the country. Since the entrance of the virus in the UK, it has recorded a total case of 2.43 Million while over 72,500 people lost their lives.

Amidst the approval of the vaccine, the Prime Minister has signed the Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) which is set to be the law by the new year. He said that it’s not a rupture of the relationship with the EU but a “beginning of a beautiful relationship.”

After the UK, India Waits for the Approval

Serum Institute of India (SII) is the authorized manufacturer and distributor of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in India. The company’s executive Adar Poonawala recently said that he expects Indian regulators to approve the roll-out of the vaccine in the country. He added that SII has already produced 40 million to 50 million doses of the vaccine and is expected to ramp up the production up to 100 million doses by March 2021.

The Indian pharmaceutical company has submitted an application to the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for the emergency usage of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country. According to the reports, the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drug Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is expected to set up the meeting to consider the SII’s application for the vaccine named Covishield in India. The government is planning to vaccinate healthcare, frontline, and essential workers in the first phase of the vaccine rollout.

An Indian government official said that “The committee has to go through the data based on which the company has received approval in the UK. In a situation like this, the regulator will have to ensure that the data submitted in India is co-relatable with the global data.” “The additional data presented by SII and Bharat Biotech was perused and analyzed by the SEC. The analysis of the additional data and information is going on. SEC will convene again on January 1,” the government said in a statement.

Currently, there are eight COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are in a different stage of clinical trials. Apart from the SII authorization, India’s homegrown pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech and America’s Pfizer are also seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country. The new variant of the virus has been found in different states of India such as Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. As of now, around 20 people of UK variant has been tested positive, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Wednesday.

Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has showcased 62% efficacy while Pfizer-BioNTech has shown 95% effectiveness. However, when AstraZeneca’s vaccine dosage was given to the people, the efficacy increased to 90%. This vaccine is expected to cost around USD 2.5 per dose while Pfizer’s vaccine costs USD 19.5 which is quite expensive as compared to its competitors. Along with this, the US vaccine needs to be stored under -70C.

China Approves its First COVID-19 vaccine

China has given approval to a state-backed pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm for emergency use. The company says that its vaccine is 79% effective for the COVID-19 virus. The news of the approval comes after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first country to roll out the CNBG COVID-19 vaccine in the world. Besides this, the company has signed a deal with Pakistan to sell 1.2 Million doses.

Even though China has been slower as compared to other countries regarding the rollout of the vaccine, the country had been inoculating different COVID-19 vaccine shots which are undergoing a different state of clinical trials. The country launched its emergency program in July and until now it has administered 1.5 Million doses of three vaccine products which include one by Sinovac and two by CNBG.

According to the data published by Johns Hopkins University, the global coronavirus cases have reached 82.6 Million cases while deaths have topped 1.80 Million. The United States is the worst-hit country with the total number of cases exceeding 19.7 Million.