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Oxford COVID vaccine rolled out across the UK

Wed 03 Feb 2021

It’s hard to over-estimate the impact COVID-19 has had on our families, our economies and our way of life.  Yet we now have hope with a number of COVID vaccines approved for use, promising us a way out of a pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill.

In fact, the UK has approved three different vaccines to fight COVID: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna. Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, has confirmed that the UK has enough vaccine on order to vaccinate the entire population and he has pledged that every adult in the UK will be vaccinated by autumn 2021. Currently the focus is on the first four vaccine priority groups in order to protect those most vulnerable to COVID. In other words, care home residents and their carers, as well as 70-year-olds and over, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals and frontline healthcare and social care workers will all be vaccinated before March 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved and roll-out started before Christmas. The announcement that the Oxford/AstraZeneca had been approved was met with particular excitement as vaccine distribution, particularly to care homes, is much easier due to its storage requirements. It is also important to note that the Oxford vaccine is made in the UK, so there is higher confidence in the supply.

Effectiveness of the Oxford vaccine

Although these COVID vaccines all aim to do the same thing, they do them in slightly different ways. So, let’s explore the differences between the Oxford and the Pfizer vaccines.

Firstly, the two vaccines are made in different ways. The Pfizer vaccine is a mRNA vaccine which is made up of small fragments of COVID’s genetic code, surrounded by a layer of fat. Once it is in the body it starts to develop the coronavirus spike protein, prompting the body to make anti-bodies and T-cells to fight the virus off. It gives you all the natural defences you need should you come in contact with the full virus.

Don’t let lockdown delay your biomedical science career, apply now to the Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme and study online

The Oxford vaccine is made differently but aims to achieve the same thing. The Oxford scientists have taken a common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees, altered it so it doesn’t infect humans, and then added a part of the COVID-19 genetic code. Once inside the human body, it acts in the same way as the Pfizer vaccine, ultimately leaving you with all the anti-bodies and T-cells you need to fight off future COVID-19 attacks.

The effectiveness of the different vaccines also varies. After two doses, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective. The Oxford vaccine also relies on two doses, but the effectiveness level is somewhere between 62% and 90%. It is worth noting that nobody who took the vaccine in trials required hospitalisation.

The last point of difference is around storage. The largest limitation to the Pfizer vaccine is the fact that it needs to be stored at below -70°C, making it a difficult vaccine to send out beyond hospital environments. By contrast, the Oxford vaccine only requires refrigeration which means it is easier and cheaper to mobilise.

The UK as a top destination for biomedical science

It is exciting times for biomedical science in the UK. With the world relying on scientists to find a resolution to the global pandemic, investment and interest in the sector has been plentiful.

The UK has long been a top destination for biotech studies, biopharmaceutical research and pharmaceutical degrees, but with the successful delivery of an effective COVID vaccine, it’s a great time to study biomedical science in the UK. In fact, there has never been a better time to study science in the UK, with leading UK science establishments now attracting funding and recognition from all over the world.

What this means for international students

As an international student studying science in the UK, you will be surrounded by successful and leading scientists. Furthermore, when you enter into the world of work, your time spent studying science in the UK will be perceived highly by future employers and look impressive on your résumé or CV. And if you decide to stay on and work in the UK, there will be many opportunities for you to succeed, with the potential to work alongside some of the most renowned scientists in the world. Studying a science subject in the UK will undoubtedly open many doors to success for you in the future.

Flexible study options with ONCAMPUS Online

Although the UK is now in lockdown 3.0, there are still many options to fulfil your education ambitions. By choosing to study with ONCAMPUS online, you have access to the very best education from the comfort of your own home.

Don’t let lockdown delay your biomedical science career, apply now to the Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme and study online. We’ll reinstate face-to-face teaching as soon as it is safe to do so, but with ONCAMPUS online, you don’t have to wait, you can start your education now.

We also have a range of other courses you can choose from, it’s important not to let lockdown stop your ambition.



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