News and Commentary

U.K. Becomes First Nation To Approve AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine

“We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
An illustrative photo showing a medical syringe seen in front of Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford logos displayed on screens in the background on Christmas Eve. On Thursday, December 24, 2020, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo illustration by
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country to approve a new coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and researchers at the University of Oxford.

“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,” said the U.K. Ministry of Health. The country has already ordered 100 million doses of the two-dose vaccine.

“It is truly fantastic news,” tweeted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

“This is important because it means that we can get the first dose into more people more quickly, and they can get the protection the first dose gives you,” U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News on Wednesday. “The scientists and the regulators have looked at the data and found that you get what they call ‘very effective protection’ from the first dose. The second dose is still important, especially for the long-term protection, but it does mean that we will be able to vaccinate more people more quickly than we previously could.”

Pascal Soriot, the CEO of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm, said last week their COVID-19 vaccine has an efficacy rate near to that of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two vaccines that have been approved for emergency use in the U.S. and are currently being distributed.

Initial tests of AstraZeneca’s vaccine showed it was 62% effective when two full doses were given at least a month apart. But the efficacy rate rose to 90% when people were given half a dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least a month later.

“We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Soriot said last week, according to the Daily Mail. “We would have preferred a simpler set of results, but overall we thought these are positive.”

After the vaccine was approved Wednesday, Soriot said: “Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.”

AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Nov. 23 said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine will be easier to distribute than the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at -94 degrees.

Pfizer’s vaccine, the first in the U.S., was approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11. The FDA on Dec. 18 also approved Moderna’s EUA request.

Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 95% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, the same as Pfizer’s. The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.

Last week, a new strain of COVID-19 was been found in the United Kingdom. That strain reportedly spreads more easily and is causing some alarm, though it’s not clear if the morphed strain is more deadly or causes more severe symptoms.

Related: Fauci Says New, More Contagious COVID-19 Strain From U.K. Is Likely In U.S. By Now

The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.