What happens next after UK has approved a virus vaccine?

*The British Government has announced draft priority rankings on how the people will receive COVID-19 vaccine shots

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Following the UK clearance for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the first country to do so, the spotlight now shifts to the high-stakes rollout.

Agency report says vaccinating the country’s roughly 67 million people won’t happen overnight.

Hitherto, the UK had ordered enough doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to immunise 20 million people in the country.

But who will get the vaccine first?

The government plans to prioritise as it begins to deploy the vaccine, starting with residents and staff in care homes, then moving to people over 80 years old and health-care workers, documents show, report said.

Britain will immunise people throughout the wider population next, based on age and risk.

The shot is expected to be available from next week.

Meanwhile, the British Government has announced draft priority rankings on how the people will receive the vaccine shots against the fatal Coronavirus pandemic as follows:

  1. Residents in care homes and their carers
  2. All those 80 years of age and over, and frontline health and social-care workers
  3. All those 75 years of age and over
  4. All those 70 years of age and over. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. All those 65 years of age and over
  6. All individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions
  7. All those 60 years of age and over
  8. All those 55 years of age and over
  9. All those 50 years of age and over

The authorities have also provided answers to some frequently asked questions on the distribution of the vaccine.

I live in the UK; how will I know when I can get a shot?

People will be contacted directly when it’s their turn to get vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. Until then, they should wait.

Where will people get it?

In the U.K., 50 hospitals are ready to administer the vaccine, followed by doctors and pharmacists, assuming they have the facilities needed to store the doses, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sky News Wednesday.

The country has moved to expand the pool of people who can give the jabs beyond the National Health Service to other health professionals.

Where is the vaccine at the moment?

The vaccine is still at Pfizer’s production site in Puurs, Belgium. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the doses will be made available starting next week.

Can I get more than one shot?

Not for now. The UK only cleared the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, although a product using a similar technology from Moderna Inc. may also get approved soon.

It may become possible to mix shots when other vaccines are approved. That should work for shots that target the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, according to Andrew Pollard, who is leading the University of Oxford’s vaccine trial with AstraZeneca Plc.

The three front-runners use the spike protein as a target, as do many others in clinical tests.

How does the approved vaccine compare with others?

The product relies on a technology called messenger RNA, which has never been used to make approved vaccines before. So does Moderna’s.

Both showed they were more than 90% effective in clinical trials. The approach is designed to transform the body’s own cells into vaccine-making factories.

The main difference is that the Pfizer-BioNTech product must be stored ultra-cold until a few days before it is used.

Moderna’s vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days. Astra-Oxford’s jab importantly can be kept at refrigerator temperatures.

How do we know the product is safe?

Pfizer and BioNTech tested the vaccine in a clinical trial involving almost 44,000 people without observing severe side effects. The most common symptoms were fatigue and headaches.

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

Hancock described the review as having been “rigorous,” not rushed.

Monitoring safety will be one of the biggest challenges once shots are rolled out widely, Emer Cooke, the new head of the European Medicines Agency, said in an interview last month.

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