The Covid-19 vaccine produced by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has been approved by the UK’s independent medicines agency and will be distributed from next week.
The vaccine – named the ‘Pfizer-BioNTech jab’ – has shown to be 95% effective in studies. As a result, the independent regulator, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended that the UK government approve the vaccine to be widely used among the public.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the vaccine will be ‘made available from next week for priority groups’ and that he expects ‘800,000 jabs to be available in the first instance’. Those priority groups will include care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly, and the clinically vulnerable.
The government has so far ordered 40 million doses of the Pzifer vaccine; 10 million of those will be due in the UK by the end of this year. Those who receive the vaccine will need two doses, three weeks apart, so there is currently not enough for the entire population. But, it is said that the NHS is currently on standby ready to give out the vaccinations when they are able.
The breakthrough of an approved vaccine sets a global precedent as the UK is now the first Western country to approve and eventually distribute a vaccine against Covid-19. However, Pzifer may not be the only distributor, as the country waits for the verdict on a second vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, a British biopharmaceutical company. The government has ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine which will be enough for the population.
Despite this news, the government still stresses that standards for keeping safe during this pandemic must be upheld. This includes social distancing where possible, wearing a mask when it is required, and washing your hands frequently.