Publish date: 30 December 2020

UCLH has welcomed the news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – which UCLH played a significant role in trialling – has today been approved for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

MHRA approval comes after the publication of trial results in November that showed the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine is effective at preventing Covid-19 and offers a high level of protection.

UCLH has been a major UK centre in the trial and the top recruiting site in the South of England including London. Since May UCLH has recruited almost 600 volunteers with 1200 vaccinations and boosters given.

Efforts at UCLH have been led by Professor Vincenzo Libri, Director of the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Clinical Research Facility, where the trial was conducted. The NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre has supported delivery of the trial, which was set up by the UCLH/UCL Joint Research Office.

Professor Libri said: “This is an historic moment in the battle against this horrendous virus. Much remains to be done but today victory is closer. I want to say a massive thank you to all our volunteers and the UCLH Clinical Research Facility and the rest of the study team for contributing to this outstanding achievement.”

UCLH Chief Executive Professor Marcel Levi said: “I am delighted to see this news today. I want to pay tribute to all the staff who have contributed to this trial – whether by helping to run the trial or by taking part. Our staff remain under tremendous and sustained pressure – but I hope they are encouraged by today’s news.”

UCLH Director of Research Professor Bryan Williams said: “The approval of this vaccine marks a major step forward in our efforts to beat Covid-19. While there is still some way to go, there is reason to celebrate today’s news – and to reflect on the dedication of our NHS researchers and academic partners who have made the development of this vaccine possible.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said: “The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.”

UCLH continues to work on the trial – where participants are now being followed up. This work now takes place at a dedicated vaccine research centre set up by UCLH, where researchers are also working on the trial of a vaccine candidate developed by Imperial College London, and two trials of a novel antibody combination treatment for Covid-19 developed by AstraZeneca.

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