- The UK has authorized emergency use of Oxford-AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for use.
- The country has ordered 100 million doses, enough for 50 million people.
- The vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator.
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Following months of testing, a coronavirus vaccine created by Oxford-AstraZeneca has been authorized for emergency use by the United Kingdom.
The vaccine was designed early on in the pandemic, and trials on it began in April. It's the second vaccine, after Pfizer BioNTech's, to be authorized in the UK.
The vaccine was approved under Regulation 174 of the Human Medicine Regulations 2012, which allows for the rapid approval of treatments for public health crises.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses - enough for 50 million people - and according to AstraZeneca, doses should become available early in the new year.
The vaccine is a viral vector vaccine and can be stored in a standard refrigerator unlike other vaccines that require cold storage.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told the BBC that priority would 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."
Recipients must receive a follow-up booster dose within 12 weeks of receiving their first shot of the vaccine.
AstraZeneca's vaccine development has been beset with problems. In September, trials of the vaccine were put on hold after a trial participant in the UK developed an unexplained illness. And in November, Oxford-AstraZeneca faced criticism after it was revealed there was a dosing error during trials for the vaccine, and that it had combined effectiveness rates from two different trial groups in a press release to announce a 70% effectiveness rate.
In reality, a group of test subjects in an under-55 test group erroneously received a smaller dose of the vaccine than another group who received a larger dose. It was found that the smaller dose of the vaccine was actually more effective than the larger dose, at a rate of 90% to 62%.
Scientists, including the head of Operation Warp Speed in the US, Moncef Slaoui, expressed concerns over a potential misrepresentation of the vaccine's effectiveness, particularly because the vaccine over-performed in the lower-risk under-55 age group.
The dose error and comparatively low effectiveness rate compared to other vaccine trials caused AstraZeneca's stock to dip in late November.
So far, more than 600,000 people across the UK have been vaccinated with the previously approved Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
The UK has struggled in recent weeks following the identification of a new and more easily-spread strain of COVID-19. On Tuesday, the country reported a record high of 53,125 new cases.
This story is breaking. Check back for updates.