The Associated Press

The UK on Wednesday became the first country to approve an easy-to-use COVID-19 vaccine, with developers hoping it will become the “Vaccine for the World” “approval and a policy change that will accelerate the vaccine’s rollout in the US.” willK A surge in infections threatens to flood UK hospitals

The Department of Health said it had adopted a recommendation from the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency to approve the emergency use of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drug maker AstraZeneca

“The rollout begins on January 4 and will really accelerate in the first few weeks of next year, “UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News Britain has bought 100 million doses of the vaccine

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, told BBC Radio 4 the company could start shipping the first doses of vaccine Wednesday or Thursday “The vaccination is going to start next week and we’re going to get to a million – and beyond – a week very quickly”

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have already received another vaccine from US Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer and the German company BioNTech

Soriot said it was “an important day for millions of people in the U” K Who will get access to this new vaccine? It has been shown to be effective, well tolerated, easy to administer and is being supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit “

Coronavirus vaccines were typically given in two doses, with an initial shot followed by a booster about three weeks later

However, changing the approach, the UK government stated that the priority of the AstraZeneca vaccine was to give a single dose to as many people as possible, which is believed to provide a high level of protection against the virus, it said, people with the highest Risk would be prioritized, and everyone would receive a second push within 12 weeks of the first one

The new strategy is against the background of increasing infections in the USAK The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has passed the first peak of the outbreak in the spring, and authorities blamed a new, more transmissible variant of the virus, first identified in south-east England, for the surge

Dr Andrew Pollard, one of the leaders of the development team, gave hope that the newly approved vaccine will help

“At the moment there is no evidence that the vaccines against the new variant will not work,” Pollard told Radio 4. “But that is something we have to look out for. We cannot be complacent about this variant or perhaps future variants”

Partial results from studies on almost 24000 people in the UK, Brazil and South Africa suggest the shots are safe and about 70% effective in preventing diseases caused by coronavirus infections

That’s not as good as some of the other vaccine candidates, but Soriot recently told the Sunday Times newspaper that he was confident the vaccine would prove to be as effective as its competitors

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be used in many countries due to its low cost, availability, and ease of use.It can be kept in refrigerators rather than the ultra-cold storage that other vaccines require, and the company has announced it will sell for $ 2.50 each Dose and plans to deliver up to 3 billion doses by the end of 2021

Researchers claim the vaccine was protected against disease due to a manufacturing defect in 62% of patients who were given two full doses and 90% of those who were originally given a half dose, but the second group only included 2741 people – too few to be conclusive

The question also remains how well the vaccine protects the elderly. Only 12% of study participants were over 55 years old and were later enrolled As a result, there was not enough time to determine if they developed infections at a slower rate than those who were not given the vaccine

The researchers were also criticized for a lack of information in September when the trials were suspended due to a participant’s serious illness. AstraZeneca initially declined to provide further details for the sake of patient confidentiality

Ultimately, the trials resumed after regulators reviewed the safety data and decided it was safe to continue, with partial published results showing no hospitalization or serious illness in those who received the vaccine, a separate study testing the AstraZeneca vaccine in the USAS is also on the way

The vaccine will be the second COVID-19 vaccine used in the UK on Dec. 2 regulators issued emergency approval for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine

Another vaccine means more people can get protection, said Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford scientist involved in the AstraZeneca project, which takes a different approach than the Pfizer BioNTech, which is operated in the US by Moderna Inc Was developed

The ultra-cold storage that these other vaccines require is “very impractical,” said Dr Gillies O’Bryan-Tear, chair of policy and communications at the UK Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, which means the AstraZeneca “can reach more parts of the world than the Pfizer,” he said

Britain’s actions likely mean that the World Health Organization will soon release the AstraZeneca vaccine for worldwide use in support of poor countries called COVAX, an initiative led by WHO and the vaccine alliance GAVI, which has secured access to at least 100 million doses of the vaccine , with options and other offers to buy more but none can be distributed until the WHO gives the green light

The UN health agency does not license or regulate vaccines itself, but it typically evaluates vaccines once they have been approved by an agency like the UK Regulatory authority or the European Medicines Agency WHO experts themselves assess whether or not the risks of a vaccine outweigh the benefits, and then recommend that vaccinations be “pre-qualified” so that donors can buy them for developing countries

Most of the coronavirus vaccines to be used in poorer countries are likely made by the Serum Institute of India, which AstraZeneca hired to make 1 billion doses in June, the pharmaceutical company announced that the Serum Institute would have 400 by the end of 2020 Will produce millions of cans By the beginning of December, however, after production had been stopped several times, only about 50 million cans had been produced

In addition to the Serum Institute, AstraZeneca has also signed contracts with vaccine manufacturers in Brazil, South Africa and China to manufacture the vaccine developed in Oxford for use in developing countries

Corder reported from The Hague, The Netherlands. AP writer Maria Cheng in Toronto and AP correspondent Jill Lawless in London contributed to the coverage

A vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, seen Nov. 23, 2020 (Oxford University / John Cairns via AP, file)

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock wears a face mask to contain the spread of COVID-19 and gives a thumbs up as he leaves Millbank in Westminster in central London after it was revealed it was COVID-19 – Oxford University and AstraZeneca Vaccine traded approved for use in the UK, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 (Steve Parsons / PA via AP)

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