What happened to the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine? Latest update and when it could be approved for the UK

The Pfizer vaccine began its UK roll-out on Tuesday 8 December on what is being called ‘V-Day’

As the NHS became the first health service in the world to administer the Pfizer Covid jab, the former vaccine front runner from Oxford has experienced manufacturing delays.

An expected four million doses of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, will arrive from Germany and the Netherlands before the end of 2020.

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The vaccine is yet to receive the green light from UK regulators MHRA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which approved Pfizer’s Covid jab.

Prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Jenner Institute in Oxford where scientists are developing a Covid 19 vaccine. (Pic: Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Jenner Institute in Oxford where scientists are developing a Covid 19 vaccine. (Pic: Getty Images)

Where is the vaccine being manufactured?

The government’s vaccine taskforce said there had been “a quirk in the programme” in the UK.

The taskforce's manufacturing lead Ian McCubbin said: “Hopefully we will have some AstraZeneca vaccines by the end of the year – assuming that the regulatory submission goes through properly and it gets approved.

“The initial supply – it’s a little bit of a quirk in the programme – will actually come from the Netherlands and Germany. But once that’s supplied, which we expect will be all by the end of this year, then the remainder of the supply will all be from the UK supply chain.”

How many doses of the Oxford vaccine will the UK get?

The taskforce had previously expected to receive 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of 2020 but will instead receive around four million from Europe.

It has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine overall - 80 percent of which it says will now be made in Britain - after the initial batch from Germany and the Netherlands.

The Oxford jab forms a large part of the taskforce's overall volume of vaccines, with 355 million doses of several vaccines on order.

A total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine, which has received MHRA approval and is being administered through the NHS, have also been ordered.

Will the Oxford vaccine be approved?

Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the vaccine taskforce, is optimistic.

She told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “I am optimistic that the Oxford vaccine will get approved, and because of what we have put in place in terms of our industrial legacy and those plans, we will be in a much better position for the future for generating new vaccines as and when we need them.”

The MHRA received an application for Oxford / AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine on 27 November.

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How effective is the Oxford vaccine?

Early trial results reported the Oxford vaccine had a 70% efficacy rating from two jabs, rising to 90% with a tailored dosage.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs have an efficacy of 95%.

Yet, unlike these two vaccines, the Oxford jab doesn’t need to be stored at -70C, meaning it presents fewer logistical problems when it comes to mass usage.