Le jab Pfizer / BioNTech has been approved by the UK Medicines Regulator – but the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not yet done the same for the EU.
Mr Hancock said European countries are “moving a little slower” and stressed that the vaccine has undergone all the proper checks, but Germany said it deliberately did not move too quickly to build confidence in its effectiveness.
Hours after the important moment, political tensions erupted.
Mr Hancock told Times Radio that ‘thanks to Brexit we were able to make the decision to do it on the basis of the UK regulator, a world class regulator, and not to keep pace with the Europeans’.
“We all do the same security checks and the same processes, but we were able to speed up their execution thanks to Brexit,” he added.
And Business Secretary Alok Sharma also said: “In the years to come we will remember that time as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease. ”
But the message troubled a number of German politicians, including the country’s Ambassador to the UK Andreas Michaelis, who tweeted in response: ‘Why is it so hard to recognize this important step forward as a great international effort and success?
“I really don’t think it’s a national story. Although the German company BioNTech has made a crucial contribution, it is European and transatlantic. ”
And German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the UK used an emergency process to allow its use of vaccines, while politicians decided against the strategy to build confidence in the community. vaccine safety.
Peter Liese, a German MEP and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling party, the CDU, also said the EMA was avoiding approving the vaccine because “careful consideration … will give people extra security”.
He added: “The information for the last few weeks was based mainly on press releases and most of the data had only been available to authorities for a few hours.
“With a vaccination campaign of this magnitude, you have to look carefully and carefully verify the information provided by companies.
“I trust BioNTech, but they rightly say ‘Trust is good, control is better’.
“Emergency approval is a tool normally intended for patients suffering from a serious and incurable disease for whom there is no other way to save life or physical integrity. This is not the case with Corona. ”
“A few weeks of in-depth review by the EMA is better than a hasty emergency marketing authorization for a vaccine. ”
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency, clarified on Wednesday that the approval of the vaccine was made using provisions of EU law, which still binds the UK until at the end of the year.
From start to finish, the development of this vaccine was streamlined
Analysis by Thomas Moore, scientific correspondent
Time and again, experts at the vaccine briefing said the public can be confident in its “safety, efficacy and quality”.
They know some people are reluctant to have the jab, fearing that it has developed so quickly.
But scientists – all independent of the government – say no corners have been cut.
Pfizer accelerated development by overlapping different phases of clinical trials. The studies themselves were as rigorous as with any other drug, with a large number of volunteers.
And regulators began what’s called a continuous review, assessing the data as soon as it became available, in June.
By the time Pfizer handed in the last batch of documents on November 30, much of the verification process had already been completed.
From start to finish, the development of this vaccine was streamlined.
No serious side effects were observed in the trials. But regulatory authorities will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine as it is rolled out.
It is sensible and reassuring.