5 important things we learned about COVID vaccines today

Screen grab of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van Tam during a briefing on the AstraZeneca vaccine in London. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam at Wednesday's briefing on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. (PA)

It’s been another day of major coronavirus vaccine announcements and news.

Here is Yahoo News UK’s round-up of five important things we learned on Wednesday.

1. No Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs for under-30s in UK

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said under-30s should be offered the Pfizer or Moderna jabs rather than the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

It followed an investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which found an "extremely small" number of blood clot cases – 79 – among more than 20 million AstraZeneca doses administered up to 31 March. There were 19 deaths.

Speaking at a televised briefing at the Department of Health on Wednesday, Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, made a point of reiterating: "This is extremely rare."

Watch: AstraZeneca jab benefits ‘outweigh risks’ but under-30s offered alternative

She said the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab continue to outweigh any risks for "the vast majority of people”, and that "more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt that the vaccine has caused these side effects".

Prof Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI, added the recommendation to offer alternative vaccines to under-30s was “out of the utmost caution” rather than because of “any serious safety concerns”.

England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam also said the revised policy was a "course correction", and insisted it should not be a cause for concern. He said it was “quite normal” and “business as usual” for medics to alter their preferences on how to treat patients.

2. EU regulator advises continued use of Oxford/AstraZeneca jab

Shortly before the UK’s announcement on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said the jab should continue to be used in the EU, with some countries having restricted its use in younger people over the blood clot concerns.

Like the UK's regulator, it said the “overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects".

However, there was no recommendation on which age groups should receive it.

The EMA concluded unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as “very rare” side effects of the vaccine.

3. Moderna rollout begins in UK

After Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca, the Moderna jab became the third vaccine to be administered in the UK, with unpaid carer Elle Taylor the first to receive it.

Taylor, from Ammanford, got the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen. The 24-year-old works at a further education college in Llanelli as well as caring for her 82-year-old grandmother.

Elle Taylor receives the UK's first Moderna jab from nurse Laura French on Wednesday. (Jacob King/PA)
Elle Taylor receives the UK's first Moderna jab from nurse Laura French on Wednesday. (Jacob King/PA)

She received the jab from staff nurse Laura French at the hospital’s outpatients department. Speaking afterwards, Taylor said: “I’m very excited and very happy.

“I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely."

4. More than 5.6 million fully vaccinated in UK

The government's latest vaccine data showed 5,683,509 people had received a full round of two vaccine doses as of Tuesday, an increase of 186,793 from the previous day.

Some 31,707,594 first doses had been administered, a rise of 85,227. The government aims to have offered a first dose to all of the UK's 53 million adults by the end of July.

5. Half of all American adults to receive jab by end of week

With at least 108 million doses issued so far, the US is on track to have administered a vaccine to half of all adults by the weekend, a government adviser said.

However, Andy Slavitt, the White House's senior COVID response adviser, warned: "We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven’t been vaccinated.

“They’re not there yet, and you don’t win the war until you bring everybody over with you.”

The US has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world, at 556,661, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Watch: How England is leaving lockdown