Germany BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have said doses of the vaccine will be delivered to the UK in the coming days after the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency announced the approval on Wednesday morning.
The vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the disease, according to data released last month as part of the companies’ Phase 3 trial, which involved more than 43,000 people.
A UK government spokesperson said: ‘The vaccine will be available across the UK from next week. The NHS has decades of experience in implementing large-scale vaccination programs and will begin to implement its extensive preparations to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.
Matt Hancock, secretary of health, told the BBC: “I am convinced now, with today’s news, that from spring – from Easter – things will get better. We’re going to have a summer next year that everyone can enjoy. ”
Inoculation, which uses new mRNA technology, is still under study by US and European regulators. A decision from the United States Food and Drug Administration is expected in mid-December, but the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency has said the jab is unlikely to be approved before the end of the month.
China and Russia have approved the Covid-19 vaccines for early or limited use, but the two countries have cleared the vaccines without waiting for the results of Phase 3 trials, prompting criticism from some experts who have warned that the process rushed was risky.
Britain was the first country to strike a deal with BioNTech / Pfizer for the supply of vaccines, ordering 30 million doses in July. He has since signed an agreement for 10 million more doses. About 10 percent of the UK’s total order is expected to be delivered before the end of the year.
“We believe that the roll-out of the vaccination program in the UK will reduce the number of people hospitalized in the high-risk population,” said Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech.
Much of the UK supply will be produced at Pfizer’s facilities in Puurs, Belgium. There will also be some production at BioNTech’s sites in Germany.
According to tentative plans released by the UK government last month, the vaccine – which requires two injections, roughly a month apart – will first be made available to residents and nursing home staff, before being released. be given to people over 80 years of age and to frontline health workers.
The UK must exit the EU regulatory framework when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31. He was able to approve the vaccine earlier than the rest of Europe using a long-standing regulatory provision that allows him to deviate from the EMA in the matter. of urgent public need.
The MHRA is also examining data on vaccines developed by the American biotech company Moderna and the partnership between the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. In total, the UK government has obtained 357 million doses of seven separate vaccines.