The UK has now approved three coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca and Moderna. Vaccine rollout has started in the UK, and some 2.6 million doses of the vaccine have now been given to 2.3 million people, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Mr Hancock said last week 200,000 people are receiving their Covid vaccinations every day in the UK.
Mr Hancock also said the Government is on track to hit its target of vaccinating 13 million people against coronavirus by mid-February.
The approval of the Oxford vaccine last year was significant to the UK vaccine rollout programme, as the UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which has to be stored in -70C conditions to reach maximum efficacy, the Oxford vaccine can be kept at temperatures of 2C to 8C.
The Oxford vaccine is easier to roll out to patients in care homes, as it can be kept in similar conventional fridge settings for up to six months and administered within existing healthcare settings.
How many doses do you need of the Oxford vaccine?
The MHRA has approved the use of two full doses of the Oxford vaccine.
Initially, the MHRA aimed for the second dose of the vaccine to be administered between four and 12 weeks after the first dose.
However as Covid cases remain at concerning levels in the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has introduced changes to vaccine administration in the UK.
People will still receive two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, however the JCVI now advises the maximum gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine is 12 weeks.
This change has been implemented to vaccinate as many people as possible with the first dose of the vaccine.
A statement from the JCVI said: “The committee advises initially prioritising delivery of the first vaccine dose as this is highly likely to have a greater public health impact in the short term and reduce the number of preventable deaths from Covid-19.”
The JCVI added: “High protection against hospitalisation was seen from 21 days after dose 1 until 2 weeks after the second dose, suggesting that a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will provide high short-term protection against severe disease.
“Protective immunity from the first dose likely lasts for a duration of 12 weeks.”