HUGE efforts to develop a home-grown Covid-19 vaccine have “paid off” — with the new Oxford jab expected to get approval as early as Monday.
The UK’s Vaccines Minister told The Sun on Sunday the massive effort had been heroic and displayed “the best of British at every stage”.
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Our world-leading scientists have led the round-the-clock lab to jab mission and have delivered in nine months what normally takes years.
Now regulators have been passed the full data package for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
The rescue mission, with huge input from researchers and engineers across the UK, will deliver an immediate economic shot in the arm for the nation — and for the health of its people.
Experts working at sites in Newcastle, Essex, Wrexham and in Scotland are all contributing in the race-against-time battle to help young and old.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Sun on Sunday: “The heroic efforts of the team at the University of Oxford have paid off, with its home-grown vaccine shown to be effective in older people as well as young.
“From day one of the pandemic, people from across the nation have been working day and night to find a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine.
“We have seen the best of British at every stage, from our world-leading scientists working around the clock to carry out vital research, to builders and engineers constructing new facilities.
“Manufacturers are boosting their capabilities and hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of the UK are taking part in clinical trials — developing, finding and preparing for a vaccine has involved us all.
“It has and continues to be a truly UK-wide effort and one which showcases what a fantastic nation we are.”
The first injections are expected to be rolled out a week after the new drug gets the go-ahead.
Speaking last week, the lead researcher at Oxford University, Professor Sarah Gilbert, said: “The regulators have to be given their time but I really hope that the moment isn’t too far off.”
Developing and manufacturing the doses has been completed across the country in a mammoth effort.
Scientists at Oxford University spent months working on the vaccine.
And ministers have given £88million since March to help accelerate the project.
The jabs will be manufactured in Oxford and Newcastle with 100 million doses ordered by the Government.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which is already being deployed, it can be stored in a standard fridge rather than at -70C.
Patients will need two jabs, a month apart, and will be able to get their first at pop-up sites including football stadiums and drive-through centres.
About 1,200 GP surgeries are expected to be involved in the Oxford vaccination programme.
One government insider said: “A vaccine is the most valuable commodity we have. It will open up the economy.”
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