UK rolls out AstraZeneca vaccine, touts British science triumph

04 January 2021 - 10:54 By Reuters
A dialysis patient was the first person to receive the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Britain on Monday.
A dialysis patient was the first person to receive the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Britain on Monday.
Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Britain began vaccinating its population on Monday with the Covid-19 shot developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, touting its position as the first Western country to roll out an inoculation programme against the coronavirus.

Britain, which is rushing to vaccinate its population faster than the US and the rest of Europe in a bid to put the pandemic behind it, is the first country to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Last year it rolled out the Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech vaccine.

Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, was the first to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at at Oxford University Hospital.

"I am so pleased to be getting the Covid-19 vaccine today, and really proud it is one invented in Oxford," said Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who has been having dialysis for kidney disease.

He said he was looking forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary with wife Shirley in February.

"The nurses, doctors and staff today have all been brilliant," he said.

Britain has put more than 1m Covid-19 vaccines into arms already - more than the rest of Europe put together - health secretary Matt Hancock said, adding  the roll out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was a triumph.

"That's a triumph of British science that we've managed to get where we are," Hancock told Sky.

"Right at the start, we saw the vaccine was the only way out long term."

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s government has secured 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which can be stored at fridge temperatures between 2ºC and 8ºC, making it easier to distribute than the Pfizer shot.

Six hospitals in England are administering the first of around 530,000 doses Britain has ready. The programme will be expanded to hundreds of other British sites in the coming days, and the government hopes it will deliver tens of millions of doses within months. 


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