The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and bio-pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca is safe and works extremely well, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday, amid reports that the doses were causing blood clot-related complications. In an editorial to coincide with the launch of a new ‘Integrated Review’ of the UK’s foreign policy vision, the prime minister reflected on how just six months since its discovery, the vaccine is being produced in multiple countries including India.
“I could tell from the excitement of the scientists that this was promising and that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine looked as though it would work. After exhaustive tests, so it has proved,” Johnson wrote in ‘The Times’.
“That vaccine is safe and works extremely well, and now, only six months later, it is being made in multiple places from India to the US, as well as Britain, and it is being used around the world,” he said.
In explaining the context of the ‘Integrated Review’, which lays out Johnson’s Global Britain agenda as a non-member of the European Union (EU), Johnson made reference to the vaccine as a symbol of Global Britain in action.
His comments come in the wake of several European countries — including Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway and Iceland — pausing the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs with concerns of a blood clotting side-effect. Some Asian and African countries have expressed concern. Congo and Thailand have stopped the doses.
However, the UK and EU regulators and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have backed the usage of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs.
“Successful as the UK vaccination programme may be, there is little point in achieving some isolated national immunity. We need the whole world to be protected. We need the whole world to have the confidence to open up for trade and travel and holidays and business, all the things that drive jobs and improve our lives at home,” said Johnson, highlighting that it is the “principle of enlightened self-interest” that underlies the new review of UK security, defence, development and foreign policy published on Tuesday.
The coronavirus has so far claimed 125,817 lives in the UK, along with 4,276,840 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.