UK approves Pfizer vaccine first shots, reassures consumers it is safe

*British Government says 800,000 vaccine doses ready for delivery from Belgium as the UK becomes first Western country to approve a COVID shot

*The emergency authorisation clears the way for deployment of a vaccine that Pfizer and its German partner say is 95% effective in preventing illness

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Amid much expectation of the readiness of a certified virus vaccine against the frightful novel Coronavirus pandemic across the world, the United Kingdom (UK) has become the first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine as the country’s regulator cleared Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine shots ahead of decisions in the United States (US) and European Union (EU).

Accordingly, British ministers and officials have reassured the people that the newly licensed Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine is safe, ahead of its roll out across the country starting next week.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The emergency authorisation, according to agency report, clears the way for the deployment of a vaccine that Pfizer and its German partner have said is 95% effective in preventing illness. The shot will be available in Britain from next week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a radio interview said “this is going to be one of the biggest civilian projects in history”, with 50 hospitals preparing to administer the vaccine and 800,000 doses ready to be delivered from Belgium.

It was learnt the UK had indicated that it would move swiftly in approving a vaccine, and doctors across the country were put on standby for a possible rollout.

For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the rollout may offer some political respite after eight months of criticism over his pandemic strategy, as Britain’s death toll nears 60,000.

Hancock said on Sky News that “we can see the way out, and we can see that by the spring we are going to be through this.”

However, the government needs to deliver the shots efficiently across the country and its patchy record on pandemic logistics is one reason often given for why the UK has the highest death toll in Europe.

In a further complication, a Brexit trade deal has yet to be signed and the end of transitional arrangements risks disrupting supply chains at the turn of the year.

Meanwhile, the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Wednesday, December 2, 2020, said that the vaccine “met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”

Pfizer, along with Moderna Inc. and the University of Oxford’s partner, AstraZeneca Plc, have sprinted ahead in a bid to deliver coronavirus vaccines in record time.

Meanwhile, senior British ministers and officials have reassured the people that the newly licensed Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine is safe, ahead of its roll out across the country starting next week.

June Raine, Chief Executive of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said everyone can be “absolutely confident that no corners whatsoever have been cut” in the approval process.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock even offered to receive the shot live on television, according to report.

But after the accelerated decision, the ministers have a challenge to convince the vast majority of the population to be vaccinated in order to ensure the programme is effective.

Trust in Boris Johnson’s government is said to be in short supply after a series of missteps during the pandemic that left the UK with a staggering death toll approaching 60,000 and its deepest recession for 300 years.

Likewise, concerns have been raised over the time taken to develop the vaccine ─ 10 months rather than the usual 10 years ─ and why the MHRA was quicker to approve it than other regulators.

In a televised briefing, Raine said the MHRA carried out an “extremely thorough and scientifically rigorous review” and the vaccine had only been approved “because those strict tests have been done and complied with.”

Pressed on why the UK had approved the vaccine before the US and EU, she said her colleagues had worked nights and weekends.

“The public can be absolutely confident that the standards we have worked to are equivalent to those around the world,” said she.

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