Dec 02, 2020
By Jane Brown
People in Britain will become the first in the world to receive COVID-19 vaccinations after drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech say they’ve won permission for emergency use of their shot in the United Kingdom.
(The vaccine is made in Belgium and has to be stored at around -70C. Photo credit: Reuters)
Britain’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC Wednesday they will begin the process of giving out the vaccines next week.
“So I’m obviously absolutely thrilled with the news,” Hancock exclaimed, “I’m very proud that the U.K. is the first place in the world to have a clinically authorized vaccine ready to go.”
Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff.
But because hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, as required, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there for care home staff, NHS staff and patients, so none of the vaccine is wasted.
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.
It also clears the way for the world’s first coronavirus shot backed by rigorous science to be approved, and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.