Approval of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine could help relax restrictions, says UK minister
LONDON: British regulatory approval of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could accelerate the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said on Monday (Dec 28).
Gove said that the independent regulator has to assess the vaccine, but if it was approved there would be a "significant increase" in vaccines available. Britain is already rolling out vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
"If we do get the authorisation for that vaccine, and the rollout goes according to plan, then we will be able to progressively lift some of the restrictions, which have made life so difficult for so many," he told Sky News.
The head of drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Sunday that researchers believe the shot will be effective against a new variant of the virus driving a rapid surge in infections in Britain.
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot also told the Sunday Times that researchers developing its vaccine have figured out a “winning formula” making the jab as effective as rival candidates.
Some have raised concern that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University, may not be as good as the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech already being distributed in the UK and other countries.
Partial results suggest that the AstraZeneca shot is about 70 per cent effective for preventing illness from coronavirus infection, compared to the 95 per cent efficacy reported by Pfizer and BioNTech.
“We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Soriot said. “I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”