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The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now clinically safe and would be made available for use by next week with priority given to the most vulnerable group.
The UK on Wednesday took a very bold step to authorize the Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use through the Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Authority (MHRA). This has made them the first country in the West to approve the immunization against the global pandemic.
The spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care announced:
“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the MHRA to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.”
The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now clinically safe and would be made available for use by next week with priority given to the most vulnerable group. This is a very important milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 after claiming more than 1 million lives globally.
The final stage of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine came out to be 95% effective making the UK place an order for 40 million. 800,000 of them would be available next week according to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. Some of the most vulnerable groups expected to get vaccinated soon include the health and care staff, care home residents, and the clinically extremely vulnerable people.
The advice for the vulnerable group to receive the vaccine will soon be released by the Joint Committee vaccination and Immunization. The decision by the UK has raised concerns on why the US and some of the other EU members have not urgently made approval for the vaccine in a quest to halt the spread of the virus.
Currently, the UK is building specialist vaccination centers to support the already existing networks of hospitals ready to partake in the first stage of the vaccination. Hancock made mention of a possible challenge that can be a cause for concern. According to him, the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can only survive at a temperature of -70C.
For this reason, their decision to make them available to GPs and Pharmacists would only be limited to those with cold storage. Even though the vaccines are stored at a temperature of -70C, it can also be stored at a temperature of 2-8C but can be effective up to five days. This means it can be brought to the doorstep of the vulnerable groups and those who take care of them.
Uğur Şahin, the CEO and founder of BioNTech in a statement confirmed that the upcoming immunization would be the first time their vaccine would be used on people outside trials. It is more likely that other countries will soon approve the vaccine for use since the US has already made an order for 100 million as well as 200 million in Europe. The global supply by Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) can be up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021 and up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020.
Though this news has been accepted well worldwide, a few persons including Peter Liese, an EU lawmaker and a member of the party of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel have questioned the process of approval. According to him, the UK made an emergency market authorization of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine instead of waiting a few weeks for the European Medicines Agency to make a thorough examination. He then called on the other EU members not to follow the UK by repeating the same process.