The United Kingdom became the first country on Wednesday to approve the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's mRNA vaccine COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be rolled out for use in a week's time, a government statement said.
An independent vaccine committee will decide the priority groups who are set to receive the vaccine first. These would include workers from the National Health System, other health workers, the elderly and the most vulnerable.
"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 and Social Care said in a statement. In its clinical trials with over 40,000 participants in the US, the vaccine has shown over 90% efficacy against COVID-19, Pfizer had earlier said. It is awaiting emergency use authorisation approval from Food and Drug Administration in the UK.
With over 1.6 million cases, UK has the seventh highest number of cases in the world.
The NHS will helm the project as it will be responsible for reaching out to the people who are eligible to receive the first few shots. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to Twitter to announce the news with a tweet that began with the line 'Help is on its way'.
Hancock further told BBC," I'm confident now with the news today that from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better and we're going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy."
So far, the UK has ordered 40 million vaccines which would be sufficient to vaccinate 20 million people, almost one fourth of the country's population. BBC reported that the country is likely to receive 10 million doses, 800,000 of which will reach the country next week.
The United Kingdom has the appropriate infrastructure for storage of this vaccine that needs to be kept at temperatures as low as -80ºC
Experts in the UK have also suggested that vaccination alone is not enough to stop the spread of the virus. Thus, it is necessary to continue following social distancing norms as well as wearing masks.
Updated On: 2020-12-02T15:08:39+05:30