Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to be rolled out across Wales from next week

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is found to be 'safe and effective' Credit: PA

The Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that a second Covid-19 vaccine has been approved and will be rolled out across Wales from next week.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now authorised the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as safe and effective after a "detailed independent expert review of evidence from large scale clinical trials".

The UK Government has procured around 100m doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine - enough to vaccinate 50 million people. Wales will be receiving its allocation based on population over the next weeks and months. Two doses will be needed, with an interval of between four and 12 weeks between doses.

At the beginning of December, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was the first to receive MHRA approval in the UK. 40 million doses of the vaccine have been made available across the UK.

90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Credit: PA

Based on a UK-wide priority system, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has already started being administered to frontline health and social care staff, care home residents and staff and those aged over 80. Latest figures show that in the first two weeks 22,000 people were vaccinated.

The Covid-19 vaccine priority list for Wales Credit: Public Health Wales

Unlike the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is stored at normal vaccine fridge temperatures. This means it will be much easier to use in care homes and GP surgeries.

Health boards across Wales have been struggling with the number of coronavirus patients needing urgent care. To many, the news of this new vaccine has been greatly welcomed.

People are being asked not to phone their GP, pharmacy or hospital asking when they will get a vaccine. When someone is in one of the groups eligible for the vaccine, they will be invited to attend a clinic which will have been set up to ensure patient safety.

People must continue to social distance and sanitise hands to help prevent Covid Credit: PA

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We understand there are high expectations and excitement at the arrival of a second vaccine. However it will take time to reach everyone as this is not an instant fix. We won’t receive all the doses at once and we have to be realistic about the scale and pace of delivery when we are vaccinating the entire adult population."

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, which is nationally co-ordinating research and study-set up in Wales, said: "We have two further vaccines being tested in Wales right now, with more trials due to be set up in the coming weeks and months.

"This research, alongside the other COVID-19 studies taking place will help us to not only protect the most vulnerable but also to provide the best care possible for those who become ill"

The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling for "radical action" to speed up vaccine delivery.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: "With 100 million doses of this vaccine already ordered we need to see a step change in distribution so that doctors can protect their patients and communities, beginning with those most at risk, and crucially this must include health and social care workers as they confront the virus on the front line.

“While this vaccine may not have the same logistical hurdles as those associated with the Pfizer jab, the task of vaccinating such large numbers of patients in a short space of time is a huge challenge."