UK issues allergy warning over Pfizer vaccine

Oxford first to publish final-stage vaccine trial results, UAE approves China vaccine

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 23:38, Dec 09,2020


British health officials on Wednesday warned that anyone with a history of significant allergic reactions should not have the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID jab for the time being.

The warning came after two members of the state-run National Health Service who were among the first to receive the vaccine on Tuesday suffered allergic reactions and needed treatment.

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said both people, who had a history of reactions, were now recovering well.

The independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has now advised that ‘people with a significant history of  allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination’ as a precaution, he added.

‘Significant’ allergic reactions include those to medicines, food or vaccines, according to the MHRA.

Thousands of Britons became the first in the Western world to receive an approved COVID vaccine on Tuesday as the NHS began the biggest vaccination drive since it was created in 1948.

The vaccine is administered in two doses, 21 days apart. The over-80s and health and social care staff are first in line to get the jab in the national rollout.

Britain has received some 800,000 doses of the vaccine in the first batch of an order of 40 million. Up to four million doses are expected by the end of December.

Meanwhile, Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Tuesday became the first COVID-19 vaccine makers to publish final-stage clinical trial data in a scientific journal, clearing a key hurdle in the global race to produce safe and effective drugs for the coronavirus.

The study, published in the respected Lancet medical journal, confirmed

that the vaccine works in an average of 70 per cent of cases.

It comes during a flurry of positive developments that have raised hopes the roll-out of vaccines can help begin to restrain a pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people and stricken societies worldwide.

Britain on Tuesday became the first country in the Western world to start immunisations, using a rival vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech after approving it for general use last week.

Frontrunners Pfizer-BioNTech and US biotech firm Moderna have reported efficacy of 95 per cent and 94 per cent respectively and have given data to regulators.

But AstraZeneca is the first to have its trial efficacy results confirmed in a scientific paper, the Lancet said.

Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group who led the study, said publication showed developers were sharing data ‘transparently’, adding that a range of vaccines would be needed.  

‘This really can’t be a competition between developers, this has to be a competition against the virus,’ he told a press briefing.

The study showed the vaccine had an efficacy of 62 per cent for those given two full doses, and of 90 per cent in those given a half, then a full dose.

AstraZeneca and Oxford faced questions about their results when they released an overview last month, after it emerged that the half dose was given because of a mistake.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday officially registered the coronavirus vaccine produced by Chinese drug giant Sinopharm, saying it was 86 percent effective according to analysis of third-phase trials.

The health ministry ‘has announced the official registration’ of the vaccine, state news agency WAM said, without elaborating on how it would now be used.

The vaccine has been undergoing third-phase trials in the Emirates since July, and it was approved for emergency use for healthcare workers in September.

‘The announcement is a significant vote of confidence by the UAE’s health authorities in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine,’ WAM said.

UAE health officials have reviewed Sinopharm’s interim analysis of the third-phase trials which shows it is 86 per cent effective against coronavirus, the report said.

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