The approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the UK is “hugely positive” but is “not the end of the battle” for businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said.
The jab, which is the second to be approved for UK use, was developed by scientists at Oxford University along with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. It has been given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Clinical trials found the vaccine is 90% effective in preventing Covid-19.
The CBI said the announcement on Wednesday (December 30) was a “feather in the cap for the UK life sciences sector” and was “another weapon” to the UK’s pandemic arsenal.
But the business organisation said rising infection rates and new strains of the virus meant tough precautions would remain necessary in the short-term.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Businesses understand this and continue to do their utmost to protect their staff and customers.
“In turn, Government must continue to do all it can to protect businesses. It must ensure ongoing restrictions are grounded in evidence, continue to roll out an improved testing regime which will enable more parts of the economy to reopen safely, and ensure financial support for the hardest-hit sectors remains in place until the pandemic is past.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that the vaccine, which is codenamed AZD1222, would start being rolled out on January 4.
He told the broadcaster: “It’s very good news for accelerating the vaccine rollout. It brings forward the day we can get our lives back to normal. 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.”