Britain will become the first country in the world to start vaccinating its citizens today with the vaccine against AstraZeneca Covid-19 and the University of Oxford.
Six hospitals in England will provide the first installments of the approximately 530,000 currently available in Britain. The vaccination campaign will be extended to other vaccination centers in the coming days, with the government hoping to be able to deliver tens of millions of doses within a few months.
“It is a turning point in our fight against this terrible virus and I hope it offers new hope to all that we are nearing the end of the pandemic,” said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
In December, Britain became the first country to start giving the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, and so far one million people have received it.
The Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than the Pfizer vaccine and is kept at room temperature. India approved the AstraZeneca vaccine last Sunday for emergency use.
Coronavirus cases in Britain have risen sharply in recent weeks, mainly due to a new mutant strain of the virus that is considered more contagious. The country recorded 54,990 SARS-CoV-2 infections on Sunday, with more than 75,000 deaths across the country.
The spread of the new coronavirus strain has forced the government to change its approach to vaccination. Priority has now been given to giving the first dose of the vaccine to as many people as possible and not to giving a second dose to those who have received the first. However, some British doctors have criticized the change of strategy.
It is worth noting that the total effectiveness of this vaccine so far, after the first and second dose, is of the order of 70% and protection begins 21 days after receiving the first dose.
At the same time, it became known that Britain will allow some people to be vaccinated, but in rare cases, with doses of different coronavirus vaccines, despite the lack of evidence of immunization offered by such a combination.
Contrary to the global strategy, the government of London has announced that citizens will be able to receive a combination of doses of different vaccines, for example if one of the vaccines is exhausted, according to the guidelines published on New Year’s Eve.
“If the same vaccine is not available or if it is unknown which product was given first, it makes sense to administer a dose of the locally available product to complete the vaccination,” the instructions state.