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UK to receive Pfizer vaccines from next week, gives emergency use authorization

The United Kingdom’s wait for the coronavirus vaccine comes to an end next week as the nation has been marked as the first country globally to issue authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass use.

The country will be administered with the shot as early as next week, the government’s official statement said, adding, “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.”

In view of the development, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had also got infected weeks ago, called the news “fantastic” as he said that under the umbrella of a vaccine, lives can finally go back to normal with a recovery of the economy as well.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “It is very good news.”

However, with rolling out of the prevention shot, the vaccine committee of UK will now have to ponder upon and finalize as to which groups shall be first administered with Pfizer’s produce. These categories will include people who need to be prioritized including care home residents, healthcare workers, elderly and people with comorbidities.

The UK remained the most dominant spot of the virus in the continent of Europe as official data showed the registration of over 1.6 million infections of the deadly disease with the death of more than 59,000 people in the country.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines gave a preliminary report claiming their candidate to be over 90% effective. The data, though unbelievably high, is formulated through the new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

The drugmaker, who developed the vaccine in alliance with his German partner, BioNTech, said the emergency use approval comes as a momentous event in the battle with the prevailing virus.

Its CEO Albert Bourla applauded the MHRA as he said that through its evaluation, the UK citizens will be able to retrieve their steps back to a normal living timely.

He added, “As we anticipate further authorisations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”

Though UK became the first country in the world to approve the emergency use, the US and European Unions are inching towards setting records for being the next countries in line for authorizing the Pfizer as well as the Moderna vaccine.

With the permit in hand, Pfizer said it will be immediately starting the deliveries of the vaccines, despite being limited, to the UK. The company is also prepping to release vaccines for wider distribution as and when it receives the green signal from the US Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to arrive sometime next week.

The 800,000 doses to be received from the drugmaker’s Belgium production centre will be used to vaccinate UK residents next week, the nation said, adding that more people will be administered with the shot depending on the speed of manufacturing and shipping by Pfizer.

This, however, doesn’t mean that every single person in the UK will be vaccinated within a few weeks as not many supplies are available currently. It is being estimated that initial doses will be stored till manufacturing hubs produce more of them, expected to come in even until the latter half of 2021.

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said, “Exciting news keeps coming, but this really is momentous. Nobody knew how the battle to find effective vaccines would pan out. Now, less than 11 months from the first characterisation of the virus sequence, we have the first emergency approval for use of a really effective vaccine.”

He added, “Truly heroic. I don’t think we should get too hung up on ‘the race’ and this as the first approval. Over the next several weeks we’ll likely see a number of licenses granted – and we do need them all to get speedily out of this mess.”

For welcoming the vaccine, 50 hospitals are being alerted in England who are waiting for the shots, while there are also preparations of vaccination centres. General Practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists, if they hold the required capabilities, will also be joining the force to administer vaccines when required.

The PM mentioned that the country may issue permits to the Moderna and Oxford vaccines too in the future.