- The EU plans to approve it on December 29.
- Storing the vaccine at very low temperatures was described as a "challenge," but one the NHS is nonetheless ready for.
- “Today a big step forward in the fight against covid-19.”
British regulators have approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNtech for use in the UK. With the approval of the Medical and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the United Kingdom becomes the first country in the world to start vaccinating its citizens against the coronavirus.
The EU plans to approve it on December 29. The British government has thus released a statement to the effect that it has accepted the MHRA’s recommendation to approve the vaccine for use and that it will be available in the UK from next week.
The nation’s Ministry of Health, on its part, has clarified that the decision has been arrived at following months of rigorous clinical trials and an exhaustive analysis of the data by the Agency’s experts.
As per the outcome of clinical trials reported in recent weeks, the vaccine has proven reliable after showing to be 95% effective and with good results for all people regardless of their ages, i.e both the young and old.
Regulatory body experts have thus reached a conclusion that the vaccine meets strict levels of safety, quality, and effectiveness, as outlined in the statement by the British government.
Vaccination Centers in 50 Host Cities
The UK’s Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, states that 50 hospitals are being prepared to receive the vaccine, and large vaccination centers will also be set up. Via Twitter, the government official highlighted that the British National Health Service (NHS) is ready to “start vaccinations early next week.”
Hancock said that, in addition to the fifty hospitals, special centers are set up to vaccinate, as well as in neighborhood medical centers and pharmacies. “50 hospitals throughout the country are ready and waiting to receive the vaccine,” added the minister, who warned of the difficult conditions to maintain doses at 70 degrees below zero.
Pfizer says the jab is 95% effective, and has passed its safety checks. It has to be stored at very low temperatures, which Mr. Hancock described as a “challenge,” but one the NHS was nonetheless ready for. He said:
“This is a challenging rollout and the NHS in all parts of the UK stands ready to make that happen. They are used to handling vaccines and medicines like this, with these sorts of conditions. It’s not easy but we’ve got those plans in place, so this morning I spoke to my counterparts in the devolved nations to make sure that we are all ready to roll out this vaccine . . . from early next week.”
“A Big Step Forward”
Nadim Zahawi, who is responsible for overseeing the vaccination process in the UK, said on Twitter that this is “today a big step forward in the fight against covid-19.” In another message, he assures that they work carefully in the deployment of the immunization campaign.
The so-called Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) is expected to publish its recommendation on which groups will be the first to receive the vaccine, but it is expected that it will be the elderly and health personnel first.