Despite ruining Christmas plans for much of the country, there is positive news in the UK’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of announcements about the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab have raised hopes the rollout of the inoculation programme could be accelerated in the new year.
Here’s what we’ve learned this morning...
1) It could be approved ‘in days’
According to a report in The Telegraph, the Oxford vaccine will be rolled out across the country on January 4.
The jab is far easier to store, transport and handle than the Pfizer vaccine and only needs to be kept at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
Manufacturing of the vaccine has already begun meaning the UK already has a stockpile just waiting to be approved and administered.
2) Scientists have found the ‘winning formula’
The boss of the firm behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has raised hopes it is more effective than first thought.
AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times he believed researchers had found the “winning formula” using two doses and promised to publish the results as reports suggested the UK regulator could approve the jab within days.
He said new data will show the vaccine is as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna jabs that have already been approved, and protects 95% of patients.
He also added it is “100% effective” in preventing severe illness that requires patients to be hospitalised.
3) It ‘should be’ effective against the new mutant strains.
Soriot also said the Oxford vaccine “should be” effective against the new mutant strain of the virus which sparked tier 4 lockdowns across large parts of England.
The claim will come as some relief even as Canada became the latest country to identify cases of the new highly infectious variant of coronavirus, which was first detected in the UK and has since spread to at least a dozen countries.
Cases of the variant strain have been confirmed across Europe including in France, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as around the globe in Australia, Japan and Lebanon.
And Dr Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of Canada’s Ontario province, said the first two confirmed cases were a couple from the country’s Durham region with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.
People living in Ontario, like those in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and much of England, are now living under lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.