FPM statement on the AZ/Oxford vaccine

Posted on: Wednesday 30 December 2020

  • The Faculty of Pharmaceutical medicine welcomes the emergency authorisation of the AZ/Oxford vaccine. We now have two vaccines available for use in the UK, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and now the Oxford/AZ vaccine, with many others still in development. The Moderna vaccine is approved for use in the USA and may be approved soon in the UK also.
  • As the recent days have shown, controlling the virus continues to be challenging and the need to vaccinate people as fast as possible is critical, therefore the availability of more vaccines is welcome to prevent people getting ill, needing to go into hospital or dying.
  • The AZ/Oxford vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine and is the first one of this type to be approved for prevention of COVID-19 disease. It is based on the technology used for other vaccines including one against Ebola.
  • The vaccine is approved as the full dose/full dose regimen for people over 18 years of age, requiring two doses for the full effect.
  • Separately, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations and the DHSA have issued guidelines that as many people as possible should receive a first dose of the vaccine, followed up to 12 weeks later by the second dose. The reason for this is that a greater percentage of the population can thereby be protected, since significant, though not full immune protection is apparent after the first dose with both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford vaccine. Crucially, no deaths were observed after the first doses of either of the vaccines.
  • The vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degrees which is consistent with established vaccination delivery procedures.
  • As with all vaccines that are approved by the MHRA, this vaccine has demonstrated rigorous safety and quality standards enabling widespread use. Effectiveness and safety monitoring will be continued following use of the vaccine in practice; any person experiencing side effects after receiving the vaccine can report these to the MHRA using the Coronavirus Yellow Card App.