Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine ‘is step towards normality’
Business leaders said today’s approval for the Covid-19 vaccine being produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is another step closer to returning to a normal way of life.
The vaccine has been approved for use as the UK recorded more than 50,000 cases for the first time yesterday.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses – enough to vaccinate 50 million people – with the first jabs starting on Monday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the gap between the first jab and the second jab will be extended from four weeks to 12 weeks to ensure as many people as possible can be vaccinated before Easter.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which has been described as a ‘game changer’, was given the go-ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Pascal Soriot, CEO, said: “Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit. We would like to thank our many colleagues at AstraZeneca, Oxford University, the UK government and the tens of thousands of clinical trial participants.”
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said: “The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.
“Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible.”
Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said: “Approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is hugely positive news, and a real feather in the cap for the UK life sciences sector. It adds another weapon to the UK’s pandemic arsenal, bringing us one step closer to returning to a more normal way of life.
“This is not the end of the battle, though. Rising infection rates and new strains mean tough precautions remain necessary in the short-term. Businesses understand this and continue to do their utmost to protect their staff and customers.
“In turn, Government must continue to do all it can to protect businesses. It must ensure ongoing restrictions are grounded in evidence, continue to roll out an improved testing regime which will enable more parts of the economy to reopen safely, and ensure financial support for the hardest-hit sectors remains in place until the pandemic is past.”
The announcement came 24 hours after Scotland-based Omega Diagnostics underlined its confidence in the “potential global application” in the rapid test for Covid-19 it is developing alongside Abingdon Health.
Omega’s shares rose following an update from Abingdon Health confirming that it continues to work constructively with the MHRA to enable approval for home use and self-test of the test in the UK.
The Scottish company has doubled its staff this year to 120 and constructed a £1 million manufacturing lab which will take capacity from 500,000 to two million tests per week by April. A further 80 staff are expected to be hired.
Shares rose more than 6% in early trade, closing 3.2% higher.