LONDON/MANILA (Reuters) – Britain asked its regulator on Friday to assess AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for a possible rollout, while the Philippines and Thailand secured millions of doses, giving the shot a vote of confidence after experts raised questions about trial data.
The UK government, which has secured 100 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, has targeted a rollout to begin before Christmas.
“We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
“This letter is an important step towards deploying a vaccine as quickly as safely possible.”
In the global race to develop vaccines against COVID-19, AstraZeneca’s candidate is viewed as offering one of the best hopes for many developing countries because of its cheaper price and ability to be transported at normal fridge temperatures.