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‘Oxford COVID vaccine authorised’

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    6th Jan, 2021

The UK has become the first country to authorise the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for public use, with roll-out to start in the first week of 2021. This vaccine is the second to be authorised in the UK — following the Pfizer vaccine.

Context

The UK has become the first country to authorise the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for public use, with roll-out to start in the first week of 2021. This vaccine is the second to be authorised in the UK — following the Pfizer vaccine.

About

  • The Oxford vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees.
  • It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can't cause illness.
  • When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection.
  • The vaccine is being manufactured in Europe and also in large numbers in India and is part of the COVAX initiative— led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
  • It may be the first western-developed vaccine that is rolled out in large numbers in low- and middle-income countries at some point in 2021.

How is this vaccine different from Pfizer and Moderna?

  • The three leading vaccines all deliver part of the coronavirus’s genetic material into the body’s cells, leading the cells to produce copies of part of the virus- the spike protein, that the body can then mount an immune response against.
  • The Oxford vaccine makes this delivery using an adenovirus vector, whereas vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use an mRNA platform.

Why Oxford vaccine is a better solution?

  • Easy to manage: The Oxford vaccine only needs to be kept at a chilled temperature, whereas Pfizer’s requires -75°C storageand Moderna’s to be kept at around -20°C.
  • Cheap and affordable: At US$2-3 per shot, the cost per dose of the Oxford vaccine is much cheaper than the other leading vaccines, making it a potential long-term option for governments.
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