The UK became the first country to approve the US-German vaccine and will be rolled out next week, with elderly people in care homes and medical workers first in line, marking another step in the global battle against the pandemic.
This makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population. The UK government has accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.
But, Emergency use approval in the United States is under review by the Food and Drug Administration.
In July, Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the UK to supply 30 million doses of its mRNA-based vaccine, formally known as BNT162b2, once authorised for emergency use but has been increased to 40 million doses in early October. As a two-dose vaccine, the UK will have enough doses to vaccinate around a third of its 66 million population.
A spokesman for the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they had applied to the European Medicines Agency for the conditional marketing authorization of the vaccine. If the authorisation is granted, it could enable use of the vaccine in Europe this month, BioNTech said, although the EMA later said that it would complete its review of the vaccine by Dec. 29.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, time is of the essence when it comes to rolling out a vaccine, particularly for the UK. It has the third highest number of confirmed cases in Europe, after France and Spain, with over 1.6 million infections.
One EU lawmaker raised questions about the UK.’s decision to authorise Pfizer’s vaccine. He considers this decision to be problematic and recommend that EU Member States do not repeat the process in the same way. A few weeks of thorough examination by the European Medicines Agency is better than a hasty emergency marketing authorisation of a vaccine.