UK becomes first country to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use

Everyone in the UK can begin having access to the vaccine as early as next week.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use.

The UK has declared that the vaccine has met strict standards for safety, quality and effectiveness.

According to British regulator, the MHRA, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which offers up to 95 percent protection against the virus, will be rolled out next week.

The regulator has declared the vaccine safe for use by the general public.

The BBC reports that the UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine--enough to vaccinate 20 million people, with two shots each.

Around 10 million doses should be available soon, with the first doses arriving in the UK in the coming days.

This is the fastest ever vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same developmental steps that normally span a decade.

The vaccine was produced using an mRNA procedure that uses a tiny fragment of genetic code from COVID-19 to teach the body how to fight the virus and build immunity.

An mRNA vaccine has never been approved for use in humans before, although people have received them in clinical trials.

The vaccine must be stored at around -70C and will be transported in special boxes, packed in dry ice. Once delivered, it can be kept for up to five days in a fridge.

The first set of people who will receive the vaccine in the UK are healthcare workers and home care residents and staff. These groups will be followed by people over 80 years of age and other health and social care workers.

People with pre-existing health conditions are also priority for this first phase of the rollout.

Asides Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, other vaccines have also shown promise against the pandemic virus, after clinical trials.

Moderna’s vaccine for instance, also uses the same mRNA approach.

There is also the vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca. This vaccine uses a harmless virus, altered to look a lot more like the virus that causes COVID-19.

Russia has also been touting the efficacy of its Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine.

The Chinese military has approved another COVID-19 vaccine made by CanSino Biologics.

The novel coronavirus has grounded economies across the world all through 2020.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in China in December of 2019, it has infected more than 64 million people and killed more than 1.4 million people across the world as of December 2, 2020.

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