The British government has asked the Medicines Regulatory Authority to evaluate the emerging coronavirus vaccine, which is being developed by the British AstraZeneca Laboratory and the University of Oxford, in preparation for putting it on the market.
“We have formally requested the Medicines Regulatory Authority to evaluate the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and determine whether it meets stringent safety standards,” Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement.
He added that if approved, this would constitute “an important step towards launching a vaccine as soon as possible.”
And if the vaccine is approved, 4 million doses will be delivered to the UK before the end of the year, followed by another 40 million doses before the end of March 2021.
Britain is considered the country most affected by the pandemic in Europe, with more than 57,000 deaths due to the virus, and it is also “the first country in the world to sign a contract with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, guaranteeing them access to a hundred million doses,” according to the Ministry of Health.
And the president of AstraZeneca announced Thursday that more research is needed on the vaccine that the company is developing to fight Covid-19, after questions arose about the protection it could provide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is impatiently waiting for the full publication of the Oxford / AstraZeneca data to review the detailed data and better understand the performance of the vaccine.
In this context, the chief medical officer in England, Chris Whitty, warned in a press conference of “early conclusions”, calling for patience until the full data is released.
Although the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently still inconclusive compared to the Pfizer / Bionic and Moderna vaccines, it has the advantage of using conventional technology that makes it cheaper and easier to store and transport. The other two vaccines need to be stored at extremely low temperatures.
Oxford and AstraZeneca published interim results of effectiveness Monday, which showed that the vaccine can be 90% effective when given as a half dose followed by a full dose.
AstraZeneca said it is advancing rapidly in manufacturing the 3 billion doses that will be available in 2021. For comparison, Pfizer / Biontech announced that it will manufacture 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.