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Is the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine a gamechanger? And other vaccine questions answered

Chief Investigator for the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trial Andrew Pollard, Dr Amir Khan and Devi Sridhar answered some key questions on the new vaccine after it was approved by the UK regulator today.

Is this vaccine going to be a gamechanger in the battle against Covid?

Andrew Pollard said: "I think having all of these vaccines is game changing. The problem we’ve had is not having enough vaccines and of course we’re still in that point. The UK’s in a good position now with access to the vaccine we’ve been involved in developing, but for the world to be safe, we need a lot more doses and more vaccines because so many people need protecting in countries everywhere. For our health security and our economic survival, we need all of them to be protected as well."

What is the overall effectiveness of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine?

Mr Pollard said: "The overall figures from the trials is around about 70 per cent.”

How long will the vaccine take to have an impact?

Mr Pollard said: “I think it’s a fantastic plan from a Public Health perspective to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. Certainly in the trials so far, amongst those who have been vaccinated, we didn’t have anyone from three weeks after the vaccine, once the immune response has kicked in, no one went to hospital or was seriously ill, so I think it will hopefully translate to that in real life.”

Why can't doctors get the vaccine now?

Dr Amir Khan said: "It's a good question. We are set up in primary care to give out mass vaccinations, we do it every year with flu and we've been doing it up to a point with the Pfizer vaccine. I was vaccinating in clinics last week, giving it out to people who were so grateful and felt so lucky to have it.

"The infrastructure is there to a degree but his is really large scale mass vaccinating and we need support outside of just primary care. We need government support, we need our military support."

How quickly can we get to vaccinating 2 million people a week?

Devi Sridhar said: "The government are putting are all their eggs into the vaccine basket and doing everything they can to roll this out as quickly as possible. The challenge we have now is that the health services are already strained because of the winter and the number of Covid patients they're seeing. So it's how do you support that through more innovative chains of getting it out.

"We are the first country to approve this vaccine, we're speeding ahead with it. We have to just keep going."

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