The UK government has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, a quarter of which are expected in the UK by the end of the year
The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world so far to approve the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 to be used.
The vaccine has been given the go-ahead by the health regulator MHRA and will be rolled out from early next week.
Studies have shown that the Pfizer jab is 95% effective and works within all age groups. The UK government has secured 40 million doses so far of the vaccine, which would need to be refrigerated at a temperature of -70C (-94F).
This comes after speaking in his first interview with a broadcaster from the UK, Professor Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of the German firm BioNTech, had said that the first vaccines for COVID-19 could be rolled out to UK patients nationwide by mid-December.
The UK’s health secretary Matt Hancock said that the approval of the Pfizer vaccine is “fantastic news”.
He added: “The MHRA – the fiercely independent regulator – has clinically authorised the vaccine for rollout.”
“The NHS stands ready to make that happen so from early next week we will start the programme of vaccinating people against COVID-19 here in this country.”
“As we know from earlier announcements, this vaccine is effective, the MHRA have approved it as clinically safe and we have a vaccine, so it’s very good news.”
Mr Hancock added that there would need to be “three modes of delivery” of the vaccine.
“The first is hospitals themselves, which of course we’ve got facilities like this,” he said.
“50 hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s approved, so that can now happen.”
“Also vaccination centres, which will be big centres where people can go to get vaccinated. They are being set up now.”
Mr Hancock has said that the military are currently involved in the logistics of distributing the vaccine throughout the UK, saying that 800,000 doses of the jab are being brought over from Belgium.
He also said that the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation will be setting out plans for how the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech will be prioritised among the UK population.
This comes after the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Van Tam, has said that he will be encouraging his own mum to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved, as he assured the British public that safety standards would not be compromised in the face of the public health emergency.
Thomas Moore, the science correspondent for Sky News said: “It’s going to be tricky to rollout but nevertheless this is really good news.”
“It’s two doses per person so that’s an awful lot of people who could be vaccinated.”
“Because it needs to be stored at -70C (-94F), it’s going to be shipped in dry ice to hospital centres that have these special cryo-freezers.”