The UK has begun the rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine, that it hopes will turn the country’s struggle against coronavirus around.
An 82-year-old British dialysis patient has received the first injection of the new coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and drug giant AstraZeneca.
Retired maintenance manager Brian Pinker became the first person to be given the vaccination at Oxford University Hospital.
Mr Pinker, who is from Oxford, said he was proud to be receiving the jab in his home city.
“I am so pleased to be getting the COVID-19 vaccine today and I’m really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford,” he said.
He said he could “now really look forward to celebrating my 48th wedding anniversary with my wife Shirley later this year.”
The vaccine shots will be delivered to a small number of UK hospitals for the first few days before the supplies are sent to hundreds of doctors’ offices later in the week.
For the UK its a giant step in the fight against COVID-19, which has been ravaging the country.
Since early December, the National Health Service has been giving out shots from a vaccine made by Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech to health care workers and nursing home residents and staff. That arsenal will be greatly boosted with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to use, since it does not require super-cold storage.
Officials say the UK has around 530,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on hand and is moving toward a goal of vaccinating two million people a week as soon as possible.
In a shift from practices in the US and elsewhere, Britain plans to give people second doses of both vaccines within 12 weeks of the first shot rather than within 21 days, to accelerate immunisations across as many people as quickly as possible.
The government’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said that decision is “the right thing to do for the nation as a whole.”
The UK is in the midst of an acute outbreak, recording more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections a day over the past six days. On Sunday, it notched up another 54,990 cases and 454 virus-related deaths to take its confirmed pandemic death toll total to 75,024.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are likely in the coming weeks as the country reels from a coronavirus variant that has pushed infection rates to their highest recorded levels.
Mr Johnson, though, insisted on Sunday he has “no doubt” that schools are safe and urged parents to send their children back into the classroom in areas of England where they can.
Unions representing teachers have called for schools to turn to remote learning for at least a couple of weeks more due to the variant, which officials have said is up to 70 per cent more contagious.