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Oxford University’s Covid jab becomes ‘vaccine for the world’ with 2bn doses

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A pioneering approach meant the Oxford University’s Covid jab was rapidly produced in poorer countries around the world as scientists insisted the vaccine be sold without profit and quickly set up a McDonald’s-style franchise system

Dr Sandy Douglas led the team that made the discovery

Two billion doses of Oxford University’s Covid jab have now been produced as of today thanks to a lab breakthrough that allowed it to become the “vaccine for the world”.

The milestone marks the British jab’s global takeover using a pioneering approach that meant it was rapidly produced in poorer countries around the world.

Only China’s Sinovac vaccine has been administered into more arms globally, due mainly to it being the number one vaccine for the country’s 1.4 billion population.

Oxford’s AstraZeneca jab has been the main Covid-19 lifeline for Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, much of the Middle East, South and Central America, as well as in Australia and Britain.

Scientists insisted the vaccine be sold without profit and quickly set up a McDonald’s-style franchise system to establish low-tech manufacturing labs in 15 countries.



The vital Oxford jab
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Image:

Huddersfield Examiner)




The discovery was made by a team led by Dr Sandy Douglas and they recently received a Special Recognition gong at the Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards.

Dr Douglas told the Mirror that from the start they were adamant that theirs would be the “vaccine for the world”.

He said: “We looked around the world and knew a bit of the history of what had happened with access to vaccines in previous pandemics, which is that countries have fought with each other for access.

“We anticipated the less well off countries might well be left behind and we thought that tackling that was really high priority from the start.

“There were two things that we were pushing for when we were trying to choose the right [pharmaceutical] partner.

“One of them was the not-for-profit aspect. The other was the question of where the vaccine was going to be made because we were worried that possession was going to be nine tenths of the law.”









Oxford academics approached factory owners with suitable sites around the world and persuaded them to start preparing to make the vaccine, even before it had been given to the first volunteer in the clinical trial.

These manufacturing sites, including in India and South America, have meant rich nations could not monopolise supplies of their jab.

The key mass production technology that meant the Oxford jab could be made and stored in existing labs was confirmed in a breakthrough on January 29.

A vaccine – in the form of an inactivated form of the virus – has to grow within cells.

The Oxford team found a specific mix of nutrients that could be ‘fed’ to the cells to keep them healthy.

It allows many more doses to be made in each batch and, crucially, avoids the need for complex equipment to keep the cells healthy, required for other vaccines.







The combination of new tech and the franchise model meant that as well as being the UK’s workhorse vaccine – inoculating Brits quicker than almost all other comparable nations – the Oxford jab has been able to protect more of the world’s poorest communities against the ravages of the pandemic. It is now used in 181 countries, by for the most.

It was the main vaccine able to get through in significant quantities to conflict-torn parts of the world such as Syria and Iraq.

After the Oxford jab, Pfizer have produced most of their jab. However these doses have gone almost exclusively to the US, Europe and Israel.

The Oxford jab is the only vaccine that is committed to be sold without profit to all countries during the pandemic, and without profit to poorer countries forever.

Sir John Bell, of the UK Vaccine Taskforce and Oxford University, said: “Manufacturing may not be seen as glamorous but the number of doses made, and where they are made, determines how much impact a vaccine can have in the real world.

“Millions of people around the world owe their lives to the two billion doses produced as a result of this collaboration between our researchers and AstraZeneca.”


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