THE Department of Health and Social Care accepted the recommendation of the regulator MHRA to authorise the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for use.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses - enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

This means the UK now has two approved vaccines for coronavirus that can be rolled out immediately.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed, like the Pitzer/BioNTech vaccine, and high risk groups will be targeted first.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.

“This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."

It continued: "From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups.

“With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: "Brilliant to end 2020 with such a moment of hope: the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has today been authorised for use.

"The coronavirus vaccine is our way out of the pandemic, now we need to hold our nerve while we get through this together."