The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.
“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use,” the UK government was quoted as saying by Reuters. “The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week,” the UK government added.
Britain’s vaccine committee will decide which priority groups will get the jab first such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, the report added.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the programme would begin early next week. Hospitals, he said, were already ready to receive it. “It is very good news,” Hancock said.
What about the efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine?
Pfizer said Britain’s emergency use authorisation marks a historic moment in the fight against coronavirus.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and U.S. biotech firm Moderna have reported preliminary findings of more than 90% effectiveness – an unexpectedly high rate – in trials of their vaccines.
“This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” CEO Albert Bourla told Reuters.
“As we anticipate further authorisations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”
Along with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech on Tuesday applied for emergency EU approval for their Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech said their vaccine could be launched in the European Union as early as this month. Following the request, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had said that it had received formal applications from both vaccine makers seeking the green light for their experimental jabs.
“If the data submitted are robust enough to conclude on the quality, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” the Amsterdam-based agency said it could conclude its assessment of the BioNTech/Pfizer shot in an extraordinary meeting in December “at the latest”.
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