The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for a mass rollout.
The British regulator, the MHRA, has approved the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNtech which is said to have up to 95% protection against Covid-19.
The company had in mid-November beat experts’ expectations when it announced that its vaccine offers 95% protection according to the early results from a mass trial. Thus, bringing into view a potential end to a pandemic that has changed life as we know it, killed more than a million people, battered economies, and upended daily life worldwide.
According to the British regulator, whose decision came ahead of decisions from the United States and the European Union, the approved vaccine will be ready for roll out next week. High priority group could start receiving the vaccine within days.
The vaccine “met its strict standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness,” said the U.K regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products agency, on Wednesday.
The UK has already ordered 40m doses – enough to vaccinate 20m people, with two shots each.
Around 10m doses should be available soon, with the first 800,000 arriving in the UK in the coming days.”
It is the fastest ever vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same developmental steps that normally span a decade.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted saying: “Help is on its way.”
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
NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said the health service was preparing for “the largest-scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history”.
Around 50 hospitals are on standby and vaccination centres in venues such as conference centres are being set up now according to the BBC.
Earlier this week, Pfizer and BioNtech applied for their vaccine approval in the European Union.
In the U.S, where the company has also applied for approval, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel will meet on10 December 2020 to discuss the vaccine.
Moderna, another drugmaker whose Covid-19 is said to have shown 94% effectiveness against Covid-19, said Monday that it is seeking emergency authorization in the United States and Europe to distribute its coronavirus vaccine.
The drugmaker said that of the 196 volunteers who contracted COVID-19, 185 had received placebo versus 11 who received the vaccine. Moderna reported 30 severe cases — all in the placebo group — including one COVID-19-related death.
In China authorization has been given to its three front runner Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use.
Russia had in August approved its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.
By: Ifunanya Ikueze