United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from next week.
“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 government said in a statement.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the development as “fantastic” news, adding: “It is the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is very good news.”
UK’s vaccine committee will decide which priority groups will get the jab first such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
UK is home to Europe’s deadliest outbreak of the virus, with more than 1.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus having been recorded since the pandemic began in late 2019. More than 59,000 people have died with the virus, according to official figures.
US-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and US biotech firm Moderna, have reported preliminary findings of more than 90 percent effectiveness – an unexpectedly high rate – in trials of their vaccines, which are both based on new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.