Europe

UK becomes first in world to approve Covid vaccine as Pfizer gets green light

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.

It will be rolled out from next week after being approved for use by the UK’s health regulation authority.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘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.

‘The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.’

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It means the NHS will now get set for a rollout of the jabs, which could herald a return to normality in the coming months, especially if further vaccines also win approval. The UK had previously secured orders for 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. 

The country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have authorised the vaccine, with the two firms also applying for approval from the US and European bodies. On Tuesday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed it had received an application from the firms for conditional marketing authorisation of the vaccine known as BNT162b2.

Pfizer say the jab is 95% effective and has passed its safety checks.

Chairman and chief executive officer Dr Albert Bourla said previously: ‘We have known since the beginning of this journey that patients are waiting, and we stand ready to ship Covid-19 vaccine doses as soon as potential authorisations will allow us.’

The vaccine is one of a number of jabs that had been racing for official approval. 

The UK government have agreed a deal to get 100 million doses of the Oxford and Astrazeneca jab, which is said to be up to 90% effective – though questions have been raised about that figure. 

It also plans to bring in seven million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which – like the Pfizer jab but unlike Oxford’s version – needs to be stored at very low temperatures. Moderna says its product is ’95% effective’

Russia also claims its Sputnik vaccine has the same level of effectiveness, but the UK is likely to reject that jab, according to The Daily Telegraph. 

Each vaccine will become available to the public at different times based on authorisation and when the UK receives its doses. 

However, the Government has previously ruled out ‘vaccine passports’.

The European Medicines Agency has said it will convene a meeting on December 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech for it to be approved.

The agency also said Tuesday it could decide as early as January 12 whether to approve an experimental Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna.

This is a breaking story – more to follow. 

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