The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has announced that the Oxford vaccine has been approved and is set to be tolled out from 4 January.
The vaccination programme will now be accelerated and the UK will be “out of the pandemic by spring,” Hancock said.
The Oxford vaccine was given the go-ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Speaking to Sky News the Health Secretary said, “The rollout will start on January 4 and will really accelerate into the first few weeks of next year.
“The NHS stands ready to deploy at the sort of pace that is needed to help us get out of this pandemic by the spring.
“The NHS will deliver the vaccine into people’s arms as fast as it can be produced.”
He added, “It’s very good news for accelerating the vaccine rollout. It brings forward the day we can get our lives back to normal.
“I am now, with this approval this morning, highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring that we can now see the route out of this pandemic.
“The vaccine is our way out of the pandemic.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “It is truly fantastic news – and a triumph for British science – that the vaccine has been approved for use. We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said, “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the MHRA to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use.
“This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
“Now the NHS will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.”
A statement from the Department of Health said, “The JCVI has advised the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
“Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.
“From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups.
“With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.”