The wait is over: UK becomes first country to approve coronavirus vaccine for use
London, Dec. 2, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Untied Kingdom on Wednesday became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use as it announced a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s drug from 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 department of health said in a statement.
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week,” the statement said. Priority groups will include care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Help is on its way.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) December 2, 2020
The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19.
The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.
The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply.
After months of “rigorous” clinical trials and thorough analysis of the data, the MHRA “concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”, the statement added.
“To aid the success of the vaccination programme it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions in their area so we can further suppress the virus and allow the NHS (National Health Service) to do its work without being overwhelmed.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News said: “This is fantastic news.
“We will have it ready early next week.
“From early next week, we will start the programme of vaccinating people against Covid-19 here in this country,” with 800,000 doses set to arrive next week.
Fifty hospitals across England are waiting to receive the vaccine, he added, which is being manufactured in Belgium.
Big vaccination centres will be set up and a community roll-out will involve GPs and pharmacists.
Several million of the Pfizer jabs are expected to be delivered to the UK before Christmas, with the armed forces involved in the logistics of distributing the vaccine.
Trials have shown it to be more than 90 per cent effective but it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees C so is not the easiest vaccine to use.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is also considering whether to give approval to a vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca which does not have to be stored at minus 70 and so would be easier to use.
Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla said it was a “historic moment in the fight against Covid-19”.