'Pivotal moment' in coronavirus fight as first patients receive Oxford vaccine

The rollout of the life-saving Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has begun throughout England.

Monday, 4th January 2021, 12:07 pm

The jab, which has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness, is viewed by health experts worldwide as the best way out of the pandemic and back to a normal way of life.

At 7.30am dialysis patient Brian Pinker from Oxford became the very first person to be vaccinated by the chief nurse at the city’s University Hospital.

The 82-year-old retired maintenance manager said: “I am so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford.

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Brian Pinker, 82, receives the AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

"The nurses, doctors and staff today have all been brilliant and I can now really look forward to celebrating my 48th wedding anniversary with my wife Shirley later this year.”

The new Oxford vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer jab, which has to be kept at minus 70 degrees until shortly before it is used, making it easier to deliver in care homes.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "This is a pivotal moment in our fight against this awful virus and I hope it provides renewed hope to everybody that the end of this pandemic is in sight.”

More than 730 vaccination sites have already been established across the UK and hundreds more are opening this week to take the total to over 1,000, helping those who are most at risk from COVID-19 to access vaccines for free.

More than a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its roll out will continue ‘at pace’, the government said.

The NHS has now vaccinated more people than anywhere else in Europe, including more than one in five people over the age of 80.

GPs and local vaccination services have been asked to ensure every care home resident in their local area is vaccinated by the end of January.

Last week, regulators and the four UK chief medical officers announced that the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine should be lengthened so more people can receive it.

Dr Andrew Lee, a reader of public health at Sheffield University, described the move as a “good idea”.

He said: “I support it. We’ve got to try and protect as many people as possible.”