The UK has become the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, following large-scale clinical trials after its regulator authorised the shot developed by Germany’s BioNTech and US pharma giant, Pfizer for emergency use.
Pfizer and BioNTech said doses of the vaccine would be delivered to the UK in the “coming days” after the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency gave the go-ahead on Tuesday evening. China and Russia have approved COVID-19 vaccines for early or limited use without waiting for the results of phase 3 trials.
The UK just approved Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus jab for general use from next week
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)of the department of health said the vaccine offers up to 95 percent protection against the pandemic.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses and immunisations will start within days for those in the first line of priority.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock expressed excitement about the approval.
“Help is on its way. The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week”, Hancock tweeted.
The pharmaceutical giant submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration on November 20 for an emergency use authorisation in the United States.
A vaccine committee will now decide which groups will first get the vaccine, such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically vulnerable.
This authorisation is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win,” said Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla in a news release.
The Pfizer shots must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than standard cooling systems. To help accommodate the extra refrigeration requirement, Pfizer has developed a supercool storage unit packed with dry ice.
Nearly 1.5 million people around the world have died from the virus, with more than 271,000 deaths in the U.S. and nearly 60,000 deaths in the U.K.