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UK approves 5th coronavirus vaccine

The British government approved a fifth coronavirus vaccine on Thursday for those aged 18 and older.

The Nuvaxovid vaccine, produced by US company Novavax, is the first protein-based coronavirus vaccine and provides a 90% protection rate against the virus and various mutations, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

“Our approval of Nuvaxovid today follows a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine, and expert advice from the government’s independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines,” said June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA.

The Independent Commission on Human Medicines also confirmed the benefits of the Nuvaxovid vaccine, and advised the population to accept it should they be offered the jab.

“Nuvaxovid is distinct from other COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the UK as it uses recombinant protein-based technology which has been used for many years in the development of vaccines to prevent other illnesses, for example Hepatitis B,” said Sir Munir Pirmohamed of the Commission.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid described the development as “testament” to the UK’s “world-leading science and research expertise.”

The jab, however, will not be immediately available as a review will have to be undertaken by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and upon consideration, the vaccine will be rolled out to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies across the country.

The UK’s Vaccine Taskforce placed an order for 60 million doses of the Nuvaxovid vaccine in 2020 which were expected in the second half of 2021.

The delivery, however, was beset by delays because of manufacturing problems and US regulatory processes.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the UK are Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.