What is the Oxford Covid vaccine and when will it be available in the UK?

THE Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as a vital step in vaccinating millions of Brits as Covid cases mount across the country.

But when will the home grown vaccine be approved by regulators and how soon will it be rolled out across the UK? 

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What is the Oxford Covid vaccine? 

Developed by top scientists at Oxford University in collaboration with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the Oxford Covid vaccine has an “overall efficacy” of 70.4 per cent against the virus. 

In the first trials of the Oxford vaccine, the jab was found to be 62 per cent effective overall, but in a smaller group given a half-dose first, protection went up to 90 per cent. 

The Oxford Covid vaccine uses a harmless, weakened version of a common virus which causes a cold in chimpanzees.

Researchers have already used this technology to produce vaccines against a number of pathogens including flu, Zika and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).

The virus is genetically modified so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.

Scientists have transferred the genetic instructions for coronavirus's specific "spike protein" – which it needs to invade cells – to the vaccine.

When the vaccine enters cells inside the body, it uses this genetic code to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus.

This induces an immune response, priming the immune system to attack coronavirus if it infects the body.

The Oxford vaccine is seen as a game changer in the fight against Covid and the UK government has already bought 100million doses of the vaccine.

Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which costs about £15 a jab and must be kept at -70C, the Oxford vaccine costs a little under £3 and can be kept at normal fridge temperature. 

This means it will be easier to deliver and administer the jab across the country. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak sounded an optimistic note last week as he predicted the vaccine will finally give the UK a road out of its Covid misery after billions were spent to ensure a smooth rollout.

He said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine.

“I’m confident if we all pitch in together we will get through this as we have done through this year, and we can look forward to a brighter future."

When will it be available in the UK? 

The vaccine has yet to be approved by MHRA regulators – but a green light is expected in the coming days. 

Thousands of medics across the country are poised to begin administering the Oxford jab the moment they are given the go ahead. 

A roll out of the vaccine could begin as early as January 4. 

Ten thousand medics and volunteers have been recruited by the NHS to help deliver the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine.

In anticipation, mass vaccination centres at sports stadia and conference venues are primed.

A source told The Telegraph that: “Tens of thousands of vaccinators and support staff have been recruited.

“At the moment, we are operationalising everything for the 4 January for the first Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs in arms.”

Who can have it? 

The Sun understands the government will overhaul the priority list when the new UK vaccine is given the go-ahead.

Teachers and some key workers will be eligible for injections, currently only given to the elderly, clinically vulnerable and health and care home workers.

Hundreds of pop-up GP-led centres are on the way as part of the huge vaccination drive to get the country back up and running in the new year.

Like the Pfizer jab, pregnant women, children, and those with relevant allergies, will not receive the vaccine.

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