United Kingdom Becomes First Country To Approve Covid-19 Vaccine For Public Distribution

The UK will begin rolling out Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to healthcare workers and elderly individuals next week. 

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The United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to approve of a Covid-19 vaccine. This is a landmark moment for this global health crisis that will likely pave the way for the rest of the world and mark the beginning of the end of this pandemic. The country will begin rolling out Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine next week. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement on Wednesday morning, claiming that “help is on the way.” UK regulators granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine after a final analysis of the Phase 3 trial data showed that the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing infections; even in older adults. The vaccine also didn’t show any serious safety concerns or side effects emerging after injection. 

The UK has surpassed the United States and other European Union countries in the race to approve a vaccine for distribution. The Covid-19 pandemic has now killed over 1.5 million people worldwide and infected over 64 million. The UK ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which is enough for 20 million people; the vaccine is two separate doses taken weeks apart. Hancock told the media that the initial 800,000 doses will be available next week for healthcare workers, but a bulk of the doses will come out next year. 

“It’s fantastic news, the protection of vaccines will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”

The UK’s health department also released a statement to the public in which they claimed that “the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) will shortly publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.”

The Pfizer vaccine uses messenger RNA taken from the Covid-19 virus itself that when injected into the body, causes our immune systems to create a synthetic piece of the coronavirus which will stimulate an immune response. This way, if the body is exposed to the virus in the future, it already has the messenger RNA to create the antibodies that will destroy it. This is the same technology that Moderna is using in their vaccine as well.

Hancock claimed that there would be three separate modes of delivery for the vaccine. The first will be in hospitals, 50 locations are already set up to handle storing the vaccine to be held before it’s administered. Vaccine centers are the second mode which are currently being set up this week before the final “community roll-out” occurs which will involve stocking doctors offices and pharmacies. The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at a minus-94 degree Fahrenheit temperature, which is much colder than the average pharmacy freezer gets. However, Hancock claims they’re already implementing ways to store the vaccine safely so everyone receives a proper dose. 

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“The vaccine has already met all of the strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. Now the goal is to save as many lives as possible and stop hospitalizations.”

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This will be the first time that citizens outside of all the worldwide clinical Covid-19 vaccine trials will have the opportunity to be immunized from the virus. A spokesperson from the UK’s health department recently released a statement to the people of England, encouraging them to continue to listen to the nation’s healthcare experts. 

“To aid the success of the vaccination program it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions in their area so we can further suppress the virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed,” the statement read, continuing on that the NHS has decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programs and “will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.”

The CEO of Pfizer also recently released a statement in which they claimed that this authorization for distribution is something that the entire world has been working towards since the pandemic first began, and while there’s still a lot of work to be done, for the first time in a while people have some hope for the future. “This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” said CEO Albert Bourla.

It’s expected that other countries, including the United States, will follow in the UK’s footsteps of approval and distribution by the end of the year. Pfizer already submitted their vaccine candidate to the US Food and Drug Administration in mid-November, so their decision regarding emergency use authorization will likely be announced soon.