The United Kingdom gave emergency authorization to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday. A huge leap ahead of the United States to become the first Western nation to allow mass inoculations to citizens. A battle against time as the virus has killed nearly 1.5 million people worldwide.
“Help is on the way,” U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Wednesday morning, after UK regulators granted emergency authorization for a vaccine. Pfizer, the American pharmaceutical giant, has worked with German partner BioNTech to get to this stage of the rollout.
“It marks the first time that citizens outside of the worldwide clinical trials will have the opportunity to be immunized against Covid-19,” according to BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
A final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of Pfizer’s vaccine shows it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, the company said last month. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called the emergency authorization as “a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19.”
The attention will now turn to regulating the vaccine in the United States. A debate that has already been fueled by President Trump and the White House who’ve stressed the need for a quick turnaround with vaccines along with it being introduced to the market. There is a desperate need for a vaccine, but assuring people that it is safe to take is key. No country until Wednesday had authorized a fully tested coronavirus vaccine.
According to The BBC, “Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine — enough to vaccinate 20 million people.” Hancock says an initial 800,000 doses would be available in the UK next week, and “we’ll then deploy it at the speed that it’s manufactured” by Pfizer at its facilities in Belgium. The bulk of the rollout will come next year.”