How big an impact will the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have?
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is central to the government’s plans for ending social distancing in the UK and returning to some sort of normality. It has invested in seven different vaccines, but the biggest order is for 100m doses of the AstraZeneca jab, most of which will be manufactured in the UK. While the prime minister was jubilant that the UK was first in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, he is now able to claim a British triumph. More to the point is the ease of use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Unlike Pfizer’s, it does not have to be kept in the long term at -70C. Pfizer’s vaccine can be stored in a fridge for five days, but AstraZeneca’s can be kept for months at fridge temperature, which is 2-8C and will be easy to take to care homes to administer to residents, the first priority group for vaccination.
How soon will I get my vaccine?
That depends on a few things, such as where you are in the priority list set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), how many people can be recruited to carry out vaccination and how fast the vaccinating teams can work.
The first priority group is care home residents and the staff who look after them and second is the over-80s and NHS staff. Then it goes by decreasing age: the over-75s, over-70s and over-65s. Next are people of any age with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk, then the over-60s, over-55s and over-50s.
This list makes up more than 25 million people. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, aspires to 2 million people a week being vaccinated, but that’s a big step up from the numbers so far. Even with the AstraZeneca vaccine being easier to deploy and local pharmacists and people with medical training who are not nurses joining vaccination teams, it will be a push. But if all went incredibly smoothly, most people in the first phase could theoretically have had their first shot by April.
What evidence is there to support a 12-week delay in getting the second dose? Read from source….