Britain became the first country to authorize AstraZeneca’s inexpensive, easy-to-handle COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, gaining another weapon against the virus amid a resurgence so severe that the government extended lockdowns to three-quarters of England’s population.
The country also changed course by deciding to dispense the first dose of its vaccines to as many people as possible right away, to give them at least some protection. Until now, authorities have been holding large amounts of vaccine in reserve, to make sure those who receive the first dose get the required second one on time.
The vaccine developed by the drugmaker and Oxford University could hold great appeal in less developed parts of the world because of its low cost and the fact that it can be kept in refrigerators rather than at the ultra-cold or freezer temperatures some other vaccines require.
“This wonderful news brings renewed hope at a time of rising