COVID-19: UK first country to use Pfizer vaccine

Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].

The United Kingdom granted emergency authorization Wednesday to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first Western country to allow mass vaccines against the disease, which has killed more than 1.487 million people worldwide.

"Help is on the way," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this morning, after U.K. regulators granted emergency clearance for the vaccine, manufactured by the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed via his Twitter account that the approval of a vaccine is a big step towards normality, but the rules in the country area have not changed and restrictions must be followed to protect others.

"Until the vaccine is fully implemented, our plan depends on all of us continuing to make the necessary sacrifices to protect those we love," he added.

According to CNN, the UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, with 800,000 initial doses to be delivered next week from Pfizer's Belgian facility, and a few million more before the end of the year.

As such, elderly people living in home-based care, front-line health care workers and other vulnerable people would be at the top of the priority list for vaccination.

According to the final analysis of the Phase 3 trial, which Pfizer published last month, the vaccine was 95 percent effective in preventing the disease, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety problems.

At the time Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the study results marked an important step in the historic eight-month journey "to present a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic."

Therefore, he said, marketing authorization would be requested "in a few days" from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), since with thousands of people infected every day in the world "we urgently need to bring a safe and effective vaccine to the world".

It should be noted that the announcement means that the United Kingdom has overtaken the U.S. and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine, a decision that is accompanied by a vaccination campaign unprecedented in modern medicine, including an information crusade on the benefits of vaccines.

This development may also intensify pressure on U.S. regulators, who are being criticized by the White House, for not moving faster to get doses to people. 

According to U.S. regulators, they were falling behind in recent days because they are virtually on their own to pore over thousands of pages of raw data on vaccine trials before they reach approval.

Instead of accepting the findings of studies shown by vaccine manufacturers, U.S. regulators have to validate the results themselves.

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