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Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out in days as Pfizer-BioNTech wins approval

Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out in days as Pfizer-BioNTech wins approval

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that was announced to be up to 95% effective has been approved for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), meaning that it could be rolled out as early as next week.

This is the first vaccine to be approved anywhere in the world and the United Kingdom will be the first country to start rolling out vaccines when it is used. Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that as many as 800,000 could be available by next week.

Pfizer said that the first doses will arrive in the coming days, with the UK having ordered 40 million doses, the majority of which will arrive throughout the first half of 2021. Patients will require two doses for the vaccine to be effective, meaning that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be used to vaccinate up to a third of the UK population.

Matt Hancock said that the first doses would be issued to the most vulnerable people; 

“This is fantastic news. The MHRA, the fiercely independent regulator, has clinically authorised the vaccine for rollout. The NHS stands ready to make that happen”.

“From early next week we will start the programme of vaccinating people against Covid-19 here in this country. The MHRA have approved it as clinically safe and we have a vaccine, so it’s very good news”.

A department for health and social care spokesperson 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".

This vaccine however does present significant challenges in being rolled out, with it needing to be stored at -70 degrees celsius, posing significant logistical issues. Matt Hancock said that some hospitals and doctors surgeries with the appropriate cold storage facilities may stock the vaccine.

Speaking at the House of Commons debate on the lockdown tier system last night, where he also announced that he had lost his step-grandfather to Covid-19 recently, the health secretary stated that the vaccine will allow the United Kingdom to return to normal by easter 2021, with hopes that large numbers of people can be vaccinated against Coronavirus in the coming months. 

“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 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.”

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