Oxford vaccine waits on final Bailiwick approval

NO FINAL decision has yet been taken yet on when the new Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 will be approved for use on Bailiwick residents.

Doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (29078901)
Doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (29078901)

UK residents started to receive the jab yesterday, with about half a million doses ready for use as the country enters a second national lockdown.

The Guernsey scientific and technical advisory cell met on Wednesday last week to discuss the new vaccine, but it still needs to go through various other protocols. These include consideration by the medicines committee, and then consultation with Alderney, Sark, and Policy & Resources.

The last step is scrutiny by the Health & Social Care committee, which will decide whether to issue a temporary licence.

The new Oxford vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer-BioNtech jab, which has to be kept at minus 70C until shortly before it is used.

In a departure from prevailing strategies around the world, the UK government also decided to begin giving as many people as possible a first vaccine dose rather than holding back supplies for second shots after 21 days, greatly expanding the number of people who can be inoculated.

That decision put the UK at the vanguard of a far-reaching experiment in speeding up vaccinations, one that some scientists say could alleviate the suffering wrought by the pandemic, while others have not been fully convinced.

On Sunday, more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases were recorded in the UK for the sixth day running.

The Guernsey context is very different, so the authorities here are under no obligation to follow the UK regimen.

From this Thursday onwards, the first cohort of Guernsey residents to get the BioNtech vaccine are still due to get their booster follow up jabs.

The exact number of Guernsey people who have received their first dose has not been updated recently, but as a comparison 3,188 Jersey people have been given the first dose of the BioNtech vaccine.

Jersey’s vaccine programme lead Becky Sherrington said everyone over 80 in the sister island could get vaccinated from the middle of his month.

‘We are ready to move to tier 2 of our programme.

‘As a result, Jersey currently stands at third in the world for the number of people we have vaccinated per 100 people in the population.’

The community vaccination centre in the Sir John Loveridge Hall at Beau Sejour is nearly ready to swing into action, but the start date depends upon the shipment of vaccines to the Bailiwick.

On top of the numbers who will be vaccinated at Beau Sejour, primary care doctors are on standby to immunise the care home residents in their own homes.

The Princess Elizabeth Hospital will continue to be used as a satellite vaccine centre.

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