The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer was approved for use in the United Kingdom, marking an anticipated milestone in the fight against the pandemic. The approval on Dec. 2 also provides a potential preview for what comes next after vaccine approvals, which are expected to take effect later in December in the U.S.
The emergency authorization to use the vaccine, as the New York Times reported, “kicked off a vaccination campaign with little precedent in modern medicine, encompassing not only ultracold dry ice and trays of glass vials but also a crusade against anti-vaccine misinformation.”
The BBC, in its reporting, noted that people could begin receiving doses as early as Dec. 7 with 50 hospitals on standby and additional facilities, including conference centers and sports stadiums, being established as vaccination centers. The network being established now is expected to deliver more than 1 million doses a week once it’s up and running.
While China and Russia previously approved vaccines for use in their countries, this authorization is considered the first thoroughly tested vaccine to be approved for distribution.
“Help is on its way with this vaccine—and we can now say that with certainty, rather than with all the caveats,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced.
The article noted that nursing home residents will get priority for vaccinations, though the tricky logistics surrounding the Pfizer vaccine’s storage may mean that National Health Service workers will get the vaccine first. That corresponds with priority setting in the U.S.; an FDA advisory board met Dec. 1 and, according to the Washington Post, healthcare workers and those in nursing homes will be at the front of the line to receive one of two vaccines being considered for emergency use.
The BBC reports that 40 million doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine, which was developed in partnership with BioNTech, have already been ordered throughout the nation, enough to inoculate 20 million Brits. The Pfizer vaccine, like the Moderna vaccine that’s also being considered for U.S. approval, requires two separate shots to be effective.
Data has shown that both vaccines are at least 94% effective.
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