ONE year ago today, the UK made history by becoming the first country in the world to deploy the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
82-year-old Brian Pinker – Oxford born and bred – was the first person to receive the life-saving jab and looked forward to celebrating his wedding anniversary knowing he had the protection from a vaccine.
Since then, around 50 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in the UK, saving millions of lives and reducing the pressure on health services.
I remember the huge relief I felt when I received my first dose of the Oxford vaccine.
After months of restrictions, the jab was a huge weapon in our arsenal and provided fresh hope that we could overcome this virus.
The vaccine is a brilliant example of British innovation and scientific excellence, backed by government investment.
I was incredibly proud to see Dame Sarah Gilbert recognised in Her Majesty The Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours and given a standing ovation at Wimbledon for her brilliant work to develop the vaccine.
The world will forever be thankful for the contribution she and everyone who worked on this lifesaving vaccine have made.
Working closely with AstraZeneca we made sure the UK-made vaccine was distributed around the world at-cost – which has helped some of the poorest countries fight back against this virus.
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The amazing success of our vaccination programme has seen more than 133 million total vaccines given to Brits in just over a year.
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This is thanks to the extraordinary effort of the NHS, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and the armed forces who have rallied around to protect our loved ones as quickly as possible.
Despite rising cases and hospitalisations, curbs on our freedom must be a last resort and vaccinations are the best way to protect people and to help us to live with this virus.
If you haven’t already, the best new year’s resolution you can make is to play your part and join this national mission by getting vaccinated as soon as you can to protect yourselves, your loved ones and the health services we all rely on.