UK approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, rollout to start next week

Image credit: Flickr/Jernej Furman

The UK government has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use, a statement by the country’s Department of Health and Social Care said on Wednesday (2 December).

The approval is the first in a western country and follows a recommendation from the UK’s independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Roll out next week

“This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness,” the Department said.

The National Health Service is set to roll out the Pfizer-BioBTech’s COVID-19 vaccine across the UK from next week, the Department confirmed.

Pfizer and BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

The development follows similar approvals in recent months. In August, Russia cleared its Sputnik V vaccine, while China has also approved three frontrunners for emergency use.

The US Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a meeting for 10 December, 2020 to discuss the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

South African trial

In South Africa, Wits University has been collaborating with Oxford University on a ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccine and a clinical trial is ongoing.

The trial has enrolled around 2,100 participants, according to an update issued on 23 November, 2020. It is part of other trials in Brazil and the UK.

“The results of the study from South Africa remain of global interest, and to inform recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, as the COVID-19 experience in South Africa has been very different to the UK,” Professor Shabir Madhi, Executive Director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (VIDA) Research Unit at Wits, said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced last week that South Africa has paid R500 million to join an international consortium developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

He said the government will pay an additional R4.5 billion in 2021 “so that we can be in the frontline of those who receive the vaccine.”

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