Britain, one of first countries to start vaccinating its population, approves shots from 'next week' - GulfToday

Britain, one of first countries to start vaccinating its population, approves shots from 'next week'


Boris Johnson during his visit to Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission on Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world's first coronavirus shot that's backed by rigorous science — and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.

The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "fantastic" that the country’s medicines regulator had formally authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use, a move that he said would get the economy moving again.

Britain has tested the first batch of 800,000 doses of the newly approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Wednesday.

"Batch testing has been completed this morning for the first deployment of 800,000 doses of the vaccine," Hancock told parliament

Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla said it was a "historic moment in the fight against COVID-19."

Vaccine-JohnsonBoris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 candidate vaccine. Reuters

Earlier, the Britain said it had approved a COVID-19 vaccine for general use as it announced a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech's drug from next week.

The department of health said in a statement, “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."


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"The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week," the statement said. Priority groups will include care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Vaccine-JohnsonLabBoris Johnson reacts during his visit to Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. Reuters

After months of "rigorous" clinical trials and thorough analysis of the data, the MHRA "concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness", the statement added.

"To aid the success of the vaccination programme 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 (National Health Service) to do its work without being overwhelmed."

British regulators also are considering another shot made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

British media have reported that hospitals in England have been told to get ready to start doing vaccinations for medical workers as early as next week.

Russian President Putin orders 'large-scale' vaccinations to start next week

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told health officials to start widespread vaccinations next week, adding that the country had produced close to 2 million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine.

PutinConferenceVladimir Putin takes part in the opening of multi-purpose medical centers of the Russian Defence Ministry via a video link. AFP

The announcement came the same day Britain approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for a rollout starting next week. Last week Russia announced that interim test results showed the Sputnik V vaccine was 95 per cent effective, a higher efficacy than its international competitors.

Sputnik V — named after the Soviet-era satellite — is in its third and final stage of clinical trials involving some 40,000 volunteers.

"I would ask you to organise the work so that by the end of next week we will have started this large-scale vaccination," Putin said, speaking in a video conference call with Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who is leading the coronavirus task force.

The president noted that teachers and medics will be the first to receive the jab.

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