Benjamin Mueller and Rebecca Robbins
December 30, 2020
LONDON — Britain on Wednesday became the first country to give emergency authorization to the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, clearing the path for a cheap and easy-to-store shot that much of the world will rely on to help end the pandemic.
In a departure from prevailing strategies around the world, the British government also decided to begin giving as many people as possible a first vaccine dose rather than holding back supplies for quick second shots, greatly expanding the number of people who will be inoculated.
That decision put Britain at the vanguard of a far-reaching and uncertain experiment in speeding up vaccinations, one that some scientists say could alleviate the suffering wrought by a pandemic that has been killing hundreds of people each day in Britain and thousands more around the world.
The global effort to accelerate vaccinations, coming as a new, more contagious variant of the virus is spreading, gathered steam in many places on Wednesday.