Launched Monday with an injection in the arm of Brian Pinker, 82, this new stage of the vaccination campaign constitutes “a turning point“for British authorities overwhelmed by the contaminations attributed to the variant of the coronavirus.
BREAKING: Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old retired maintenance manager and a patient at Oxford University Hospital, has become the first to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
– Sky News (@SkyNews) January 4, 2021
“I am very happy to receive this Covid vaccine today and very proud that it was invented in Oxford“, did he declare.
“It is a real privilege to have been able to administer the first Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine here at Churchill Hospital, just a few hundred yards from where it was developed.“, affirmed the head nurse of the structure, Sam Foster.
A heavy toll in the United Kingdom
With more than 75,000 dead, the United Kingdom is one of the countries in Europe most bereaved by the Covid-19. Nearly 55,000 more people have tested positive for the virus in 24 hours, exceeding the threshold of 50,000 for the sixth day in a row, according to the latest official data released on Sunday.
While much of the country is already contained, the rapid expansion of the epidemic, attributed to a new variant of the virus, has led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to consider tighter restrictions, possibly including school closures.
A vaccine that brings “hope” according to the authorities
With this vaccine from the British group AstraZeneca authorized on its territory, after that of the American-German alliance Pfizer / BioNtech which has already been injected to more than a million people since December 8, the United Kingdom hopes to accelerate the pace to quickly stem a surge in cases attributed to a variant of the virus.
The use of this vaccine constitutes “a turning point in our fight against this horrible virus“, welcomed in a statement the Minister of Health Matt Hancock, wishing”that it gives everyone hope that the end of this pandemic is in sight“.
A vaccine that can be stored more easily
Also approved by Argentina and India, the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine was eagerly awaited. Inexpensive (around 2.70 euros per dose), this vaccine “national“has the advantage of being able to be stored at the temperature of a refrigerator – against -70 ° C for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine -, thus facilitating large-scale vaccination.
The 100 million doses ordered by the British authorities – of which 520,000 are already ready – will be distributed as a priority to nine risk categories representing 99% of deaths: residents of retirement homes, caregivers, people aged over 50 and people with risk.
To speed up the administration of a first dose to as large a population as possible, the two doses required will be spaced considerably apart, up to 12 weeks, during which time vaccinated persons are protected.
Read also : Vaccination against covid: “We have to go much faster”
Be careful all the same
In the interim results of clinical trials, the British laboratory announced in November that its vaccine was on average 70% effective, against more than 90% for those of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.
But this average hides large differences between two protocols: the efficacy is 90% for the volunteers who first received a half-dose, then a full dose a month later, but only 62% for another. group vaccinated with two full doses.
These results had been criticized because the injection of half a dose was due to an error and only a small group had followed the second protocol, pushing the company to carry out further research.
“These vaccines are effective and safe“, tried to reassure Matt Hancock Monday morning on Sky news, praising”the triumph of British science“The possibility of waiting 12 weeks between injections is.”a real positive change for the country as a whole“, he added.