BioNTech/Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine should start arriving in the U.K. within days after the country on Wednesday became the first in the western world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine.
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the inoculation provides 95 percent protection against the Covid-19 virus. The country plans to start immunization of high priority groups as soon as possible and has ordered 40 million doses with 10 million of them initially being supplied.
The vaccine approval comes as the number of deaths from the virus in Britain have reached 59,000. British prime minister, Boris Johnson, although optimistic about the vaccine has also warned against “over optimism.” He urged caution at a press conference in Downing Street saying; ‘It will inevitably take some months before the most vulnerable are protected.’ His thoughts are echoed by Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer who has warned against relaxing any current restrictions. ‘If we relax too soon it will create a tidal wave of infections,’ he said. ‘I don’t think we are going to eradicate coronavirus ever, I think it’s going to be with humankind forever.’
Next in line to approve the use of the vaccine are the United States and the European Union whose regulatory authorities are still reviewing the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and could possibly authorize it for emergency use this month.
The vaccine requires two doses, spaced around three weeks apart. The mRNA vaccine uses new technology containing “genetic instructions” that assist the body to recognize the coronavirus spike protein which is used to enter the body’s cells. Trials on 43,000 participants continue even as the vaccine is approved for emergency use. The company has reported that the vaccine was “well tolerated” and that the participants will continue to be monitored to ascertain how it protects and it’s safety for a further two years after their second dose.
Starting initially from next week in the U.K. around 50 “hospital hubs” will being offering the vaccine to people over 80 and care home staff. After that, doctor’s offices will begin operating local vaccine centers – approximately 1,000 across England to enable vaccination of vulnerable patients. As more doses become available, it will be provided at large vaccination centers and pharmacists should be able to offer it from January.