The UK Medicines Agency on Friday approved the use of the single-dose vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, the fourth coronavirus vaccine approved in the country.
Approval comes amid growing concerns about the spread of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India in the UK. The number of cases of the variant known as B.1.617.2 has doubled within a week, according to public figures, and nearly 7,000 cases were recorded as of Thursday.
"This fourth approved vaccine expands our armory," UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter. "If you're authorized, get your bump." The UK has also approved the use of the vaccines manufactured by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech.
More than 58 percent of the UK population have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 36 percent have been fully vaccinated. The UK opened vaccination for adults aged 30 and over this week, but most of the vaccination campaign's efforts in the past few weeks have focused on second injections.
According to the UK regulator, Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is 85 percent effective against serious diseases from Covid-19.
The UK approval comes a day after Mexico approves the same emergency vaccine.
The Mexican government previously approved AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, as well as Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinovac and CanSino.
In other news around the world:
Hong Kong No new coronavirus cases were registered on Thursday for the first time in seven months. This bodes well for Chinese territory's efforts to quell a wave of infections that will begin in November. It has been more than a month for the city to record more than 15 daily cases and authorities are increasingly being urged to relax social distancing measures.
Vietnam ordered religious institutions to suspend large gatherings after a group of infections were linked to a Protestant community in Ho Chi Minh City that was part of a nationwide surge in cases. Of the more than 6,300 cases recorded in the Southeast Asian nation since the pandemic began, half occurred in the past month, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.
South AmericaThe biggest soccer tournament is slated to start in just over two weeks, but with one of the planned host countries Colombia, removed due to political protests, and the remaining host, ArgentinaIt is unclear where the competition will take place.