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UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine; rollout to begin next week

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.

December 02, 2020 / 08:59 PM IST

The Launch and Scale Speedometer led by the Duke Global Health Innovation Centre has aggregated and analyzed publicly available data on coronavirus vaccine procurement and manufacturing to track the flow of procurement and better understand global equity challenges. Duke University researchers have identified COVID vaccine candidates and status, deals and ongoing negotiations for procurement and manufacturing, allocation and distribution plans. The findings have highlighted an unequal struggle between countries to secure as many doses as possible with the total number already reserved standing at 9.8 billion by November 20. Countries are incentivized to purchase as many vaccine doses from number of candidates as possible in order to increase their chances of covering their population. Let’s find out which countries have secured maximum COVID-19 vaccine doses as on November 20, 2020. (Image: Reuters)

The United Kingdom has become the first country to authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use. Britain on December 2 said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out for use from next week. The emergency authorization clears the way for the deployment of a vaccine that’s expected to play a significant role in the global effort to halt the coronavirus.

“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.

Also Read: 5 things to know about Pfizer's Covid vaccine

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week," it added.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Pfizer said Britain’s emergency use authorization marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19. "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 Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world," Bourla added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the programme would begin early next week. "Hospitals are already ready to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It is very good news,” Hancock said.

While the UK has ordered enough Pfizer vaccine for 20 million people, it’s not clear how many will arrive by year’s end. Adding to the distribution challenges, the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. Two doses three weeks apart are required for protection.

Also read: Coronavirus vaccine update: Russia's Sputnik V likely to be available for supply from January

The U.K. government says frontline health care workers and nursing home residents will be first in line to get vaccinated, followed by older adults.

Pfizer Inc on November 18 said its COVID-19 vaccine with partner BioNTech SE was 95 percent effective in the final analysis based on clinical trials data. This 95 percent effectiveness rate brings the experimental candidate on par with the likes of shingles and measles vaccines.

The companies also reported no serious side effects, although vaccine recipients may experience temporary pain and flu-like reactions immediately after injections.

Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak
Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 2, 2020 12:50 pm

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