Oxford University's AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved ‘just after’ Christmas

The Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine could be approved by regulators “just after” Christmas, according to a medical scientist.

Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, Professor Sir John Bell, said that the AstraZeneca Covid vaccination could be approved “pretty shortly” by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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Prof Bell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the MHRA “got data quite a long time ago, but that was the first set of data.”

“They receive multiple sets of data. So we are getting to be about prime time now, I would expect some news pretty shortly,” he continued.

“I doubt we’ll make Christmas now, but just after Christmas I would expect. I have no concerns whatsoever that the data looks better than ever.”

This echoes what Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, said earlier this week, when she commented that the jab was "not too far off" being approved by regulators.

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Which Covid vaccines have already been approved?

Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, which became the first country in the world to start using the vaccine when it began being administered on 8 December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday (21 Dec) that more than 500,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been administered to the elderly, care home staff, and healthcare workers with underlying health conditions.

However, the Oxford vaccine being approved would be a huge boost to the UK’s efforts to control Covid-19.

The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, with around 40 million expected to be available by the end of March 2021. The vaccine also has the added benefit of being easier to distribute than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The government has also ordered seven million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is currently seeking approval from UK regulators.