Oxford Covid vaccine arrives at UK hospitals ahead of national rollout

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Batches of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived at UK hospitals ahead of a mass rollout.

Around 530,000 doses of the treatment will be available from Monday with vulnerable groups being given priority in the vaccination programme.

It is the second Covid-19 vaccine to be given the green light in the UK after the Pfizer/BioNTech jab began its rollout programme in December.

The vaccine has been developed in the UK by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

It comes after England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned vaccine shortages are likely to cause problems for "several months" with a lack of global supplies likely to hamper efforts to protect the UK in the first part of 2021.

Public Health England has already stated it does not recommend mixing different coronavirus vaccines amid fears over the possible shortages.

Both vaccines require two doses – an initial jab and a follow-up booster.

The first doses of the vaccine will be administered after the UK again recorded a new daily high for coronavirus cases of 57,725.

That was along with another 445 deaths.

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The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, which is part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, was one of the first hospitals to take delivery of a batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Chief medical officer for the trust Dr George Findlay said the vaccination programme gives NHS staff "more confidence" coming into work.

He added that the Oxford vaccine, which can be kept at normal fridge temperature, is "much easier" to administer compared to the Pfizer jab, which must be stored at around -70C.

More than a million people have already received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

There has been controversy over delaying the second jab for patients to allow more people to have the first one.

Second doses of either vaccine will now take place within 12 weeks rather than the 21 days that was initially planned with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, following a change in guidance which aims to accelerate immunisation.

Doctors' Association UK (DAUK) has raised concerns over the spacing of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and what it calls "the lack of a coherent strategy for the current crisis".

  • Coronavirus

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