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Speaking on the anniversary of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab’s approval for use in the UK, Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: “I actually feel most worried today about the unvaccinated people, whether they’re here in the UK or elsewhere in the world. We have now a variant which spreads remarkably effectively, so it’s going to be finding many of those unvaccinated people in the weeks ahead.
“There are countries where only a quarter of the population are vaccinated. We’re very lucky to have around 90 per cent of people who have had at least one dose amongst the adult population. But those who are unvaccinated remain at risk here in the UK and in other countries around the world, so that perhaps needs to be our focus.”
Around 2.5 billion doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered across the globe over the past year. Prof Pollard said the Covid jabs that have been deployed offer “superb protection” regardless of the combination of doses people have had.
He also spoke of the pressure scientists had felt when developing the life-saving jabs and getting them through trials and into mass use within a year of the outbreak – a process that would usually have taken up to 15 years.
He added: “The actual mechanics of doing the trials is the same as we would normally do. It’s just that lots of causes of delay in normal production were taken out. We didn’t have to wait for funding approval between each step in the development process and it was relatively easy to find volunteers who really wanted to contribute in the pandemic.”
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