UK approves world’s first coronavirus vaccine
US and Europe expected to follow suit soon
Politicians across the political spectrum have heralding the result
Military drafted in to assist with the logistics of the roll-out
UK should return to normal by Easter
UK approved Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine ready for roll out next week, enabling a mass immunisation strategy to get underway with an initial 800,000 doses.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has approved the vaccine for emergency use making it the first country in the Western world to have an officially approved vaccine available to the public for the coronavirus vaccine.
Despite the historic news, there are still multiple questions surrounding the rollout of the vaccine. Currently, the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine must be stored at exceedingly low temperatures, -70C (-94F), making it difficult to transport and there are questions about the capacity to be able to deliver the vaccine to the necessary elderly population in care homes as it is being queried whether the majority of care homes will have the facility to be able to store the vaccine.
The UK has purchased a total of 40m doses of the vaccine, which has been proven to be 95% effective, and was able to be approved by the MHRA via special order from the UK government which enabled the approval prior to January 1 when the UK’s body will become fully responsible for all medical authority after Brexit.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care has said, “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the MHRA to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.”
“This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”
“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will shortly also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable. The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
With 800,000 doses set to be available from next week and the expectation that 10m doses will be available prior to the end of the year, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has called it “fantastic news”.
Hancock took to Twitter to share the good news, stating, “The MHRA – the fiercely independent regulator – has clinically authorised the vaccine for rollout.”
“The NHS stands ready to make that happen so from early next week we will start the programme of vaccinating people against COVID-19 here in this country.”
“As we know from earlier announcements, this vaccine is effective, the MHRA have approved it as clinically safe and we have a vaccine, so it’s very good news.”
Mr Hancock has also confirmed that the military have been drafted in to assist with the logistics of such a huge rollout on a national scale.
Help is on its way.
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.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) December 2, 2020
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also took to Twitter to respond to the news, saying, “It’s fantastic that @MHRAgovuk has formally authorised the @Pfizer/@BioNTech_Group vaccine for Covid-19. The vaccine will begin to be made available across the UK from next week.”
“It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”
It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again. (2/2)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 2, 2020
First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed Scotland was ready for the roll-out as soon as the stock was available.
She said, “The best news in a long time. @scotgov ready to start vaccinations as soon as supplies arrive”
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 2, 2020
He said, “Thank you to all those involved in this wonderful news – from the brilliant scientists to the trial volunteers. We must now ensure vaccines are rolled out safely but swiftly across the country.”
Thank you to all those involved in this wonderful news – from the brilliant scientists to the trial volunteers.
We must now ensure vaccines are rolled out safely but swiftly across the country. https://t.co/DDueB5QpWw
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) December 2, 2020
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has also taken the opportunity to confirm that there would be three primary delivery modes for the vaccine, the initial doses of which will be delivered in the coming days from Belgium.
He said, “The first is hospitals themselves, which of course we’ve got facilities like this,”
“50 hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s approved, so that can now happen.”
“Also, vaccination centres, which will be big centres where people can go to get vaccinated. They are being set up now.”
The vaccine roll-out is expected to take some time however there are already 50 hospitals across the UK that are ready to receive and deliver doses alongside a number of specialist vaccine centres. As the vaccine rolls out, it will also be available via GP surgeries and potentially even pharmacies, but only if they have the appropriate level of cold storage.
The Health Secretary said, “The goal will be to vaccinate through the NHS right across the UK as rapidly as the company can manufacture. It will help save lives. Once we’ve protected the most vulnerable it will help us all get back to normal and back to some of the things that we love.”
“So many families have suffered, including my own. I’m just so, so pleased … 2020 has been just awful and 2021 is going to be better. Help is on its way. Help is on its way with this vaccine – and we can now say that with certainty rather than with all the caveats that we normally have to put around that.
“I’m confident now, with the news today, that from spring – from Easter onwards – things are going to be better. We’re going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy. Between now and then we’ve got to hold our resolve.”
Albert Bourla, the chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, said, “Today’s emergency use authorisation in the UK marks a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19. This authorisation 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.”
The speed at which the UK has worked to approve this vaccine is unprecedented and the vaccine production itself is a clear demonstration of the exceptional progress to society which can be made when countries work across borders and international lines.
Uğur Şahin, the CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said, “The emergency use authorisation in the UK will mark the first-time citizens outside of the trials will have the opportunity to be immunised against Covid-19,”
“We believe that the rollout of the vaccination programme in the UK will reduce the number of people in the high-risk population being hospitalised. Our aim is to bring a safe and effective vaccine upon approval to the people who need it. The data submitted to regulatory agencies around the world are the result of a scientifically rigorous and highly ethical research and development programme.”
While the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is the first to be approved globally within the UK, there are still a number of other vaccines almost complete including the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine which has a much easier distribution and storage process.
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“UK approved Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine with 800,000 doses ready for next week”
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