A regulator has been formally asked to assess a coronavirus vaccine developed in the UK.
The move “marks a significant first step” in getting the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab approved, should it meet safety, efficacy and quality standards, the government said.
It comes a week after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was asked by the government to check the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are working tirelessly to be in the best possible position to deploy a vaccine as soon as one is approved by the independent regulator the MHRA.
“We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards.”
British scientists have defended Oxford University and AstraZeneca after questions were raised about the results of their vaccine trial.
AstraZeneca said it will most likely carry out a further global clinical trial to assess the efficacy of the jab after a surprise result found 90% protection was achieved when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose.
The pharmaceutical giant has acknowledged the finding was as a result of a dosing error, but said it did not expect any new trial to delay regulatory approval in countries including the UK.
The government said it has secured access to 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and 40 million of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
If approved, a vaccine could be rolled out from December, Hancock has said.