The NHS is set to begin administering the new Oxford vaccine from today, with 82-year-old Brian Pinker from Oxford being the first person outside clinical trials to receive the newly-approved coronavirus jab.
Having seen the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approve the prospective vaccine for use last week, the NHS now becomes the first health service in the world to deliver the new jab.
With much less intensive temperature storage requirement, the Oxford vaccine has been seen as a huge step forward in the country’s ambitious national vaccination programme – allowing for easier administering of the vaccine in community setting, where the lack the cold chain storage capabilities necessary for the alternative Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Hundreds of new vaccination sites are set to join the already 700-strong national network this week to support this wider vaccine rollout.
The first Oxford vaccinations are being delivered at a small number of hospitals for the initial few days, to allow for surveillance purposes and more rapid response to any potential negative reactions to the vaccine – a process that is standard practice for any new vaccine jab.
Provided it proves successful, the bulk of supplies are then set to be sent out to hundreds of GP practices around the country.
Oxford University NHS Hospital Trust, where the vaccine was developed, administered the very first Oxford vaccine dose to local resident Mr Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who has been having dialysis for kidney disease at the hospital for a number of years, early Monday morning.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The delivery of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine marks another first for the NHS, and a major milestone in humanity’s battle against coronavirus.
“The vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history – has got off to a strong start, and by New Year’s Day we’d been able to vaccinate more people than the rest of Europe combined.
“Now we have a second, more versatile, jab in our armoury, and NHS staff are expanding the programme as extra vaccine supplies come onstream, and the arrival of the Oxford jab, coupled with more Pfizer vaccine being made available, will allow us to protect many more people faster.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “The Oxford vaccine is a triumph of British science and I want to thank everyone involved in its development and production.
“From tomorrow, the NHS will start using the Oxford vaccine to give protection against Covid-19.
“We know there are challenges still ahead of us over the coming weeks and months, but I’m confident this is the year we will defeat Coronavirus and start building back better.”