THE FIRST fully-tested covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use in Britain. The drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has granted emergency authorisation to the vaccine made by Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical giant, and BioNTech, a smaller German firm. Trials have shown that the vaccine has an efficacy of 95%. Ugur Sahin, head of BioNTech, said the decision would reduce people in the high-risk population being hospitalised. The firms anticipate further such decisions in the coming days and weeks, and say it marks an historic milestone in the fight against covid-19.
Britain has ordered 40m doses of the mRNA vaccine, known as BNT162b2. The regulator’s decision will trigger the release of supplies. These are expected to come from a manufacturing site in Puurs, Belgium, and will be delivered in stages this year and throughout 2021. Britain has also told hospitals to be ready to distribute the vaccine as soon as December 7th. In the interim, Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will have to make a final decision on the priority groups for vaccination—such as health-care workers and those at high-risk from covid-19.
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