Hancock confirmed that the vaccination campaign will be accelerated further from Monday with the start of mass use of the vaccine jointly developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca. The vaccination campaign began in the UK on 8 December with a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The British Medicines Authority (MHRA) also authorized marketing of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday and the UK government announced the same day that the vaccine would be available in the UK on January 4.
In his tweet on Friday, Matt Hancock confirmed that the UK vaccination campaign is moving to a new dosing schedule so that as many as possible can get the first dose as quickly as possible. According to the health minister, this could save lives, lighten the burden on the NHS and allow restrictions to be lifted more quickly. Two doses of approved vaccines should be given so far.
However, based on the recommendation of the Joint Commission on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) along with the UK government, the UK government has shifted focus from administering the second dose as soon as possible to getting the first dose as soon as possible, especially from the most vulnerable population. To rapidly develop protection against dangerous diseases caused by infection with the Coronavirus
Accordingly, instead of the previous three timing difference, the first dose may be followed by the second dose within 12 weeks. Chris Whitty of England, Michael McBride of Northern Ireland, Gregor Smith of Scotland, Chief of Staff of Wales Frank Atherton and Jonathan Van Tamm, Deputy Chief of Staff of England, said in a joint statement provided by the Department of Health on Friday:
The administration of the second dose of vaccine is likely to be very important throughout the duration of protection, but in the short term there is a good chance of moderately increasing the efficacy of the vaccine, with the initial protection against disease significantly after the first dose.
According to leading physicians, it is clearly very beneficial from a public health standpoint to have twice as many people vaccinated in the next two to three months, shifting focus to the first dose as quickly as possible. In their case, there is a slight increase in protection after the second dose.