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UK rolls out Astra/Oxford COVID vaccine after world-first approval

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, hoping that rapid action would help it stem a surge of infections driven by a highly contagious variant of the virus.

Boris Johnson’s government, which has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, has jumped ahead of other Western countries with its vaccination programme.

It was the first to approve a shot developed by Pfizer of the United States and Germany’s BioNTech, with the result that hundreds of thousands of people were vaccinated in Britain before European Union countries and the United States even began administering it this month.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford shot, unlikely to be approved for some time by EU or U.S. regulators, will start being administered on Monday, beginning with those most at risk from COVID-19.

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