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article imageUK becomes first nation to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

By Karen Graham     Dec 2, 2020 in World
The U.K. became the first nation to grant emergency approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine - a decision that will likely put pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to move swiftly to do the same.
The two-dose vaccine is also the first to run the gauntlet of clinical studies, including Phase 3 trials usually required for approval. Russia and China authorized vaccines without Phase 3 clinical trials.
This means that the first doses of the vaccine should be rolled out in Great Britain as soon as next week, reports CNN News. "Help is on the way," Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Wednesday morning after the emergency authorization was granted.
A final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of Pfizer's vaccine shows it was 95 percent effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, the company said last month. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla hailed the emergency authorization as "a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19."
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to give 20 million people a first and second dose. Hancock says an initial 800,000 doses would be available in the UK next week, and "we'll then deploy it at the speed that it's manufactured" by Pfizer at its facilities in Belgium."
“The U.K.’s approval will be only one of many, but along with that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, it is likely to set the pace for the rest of the world — and for the other vaccines that are awaiting approval,” Ana Nicholls, managing editor of the Industry Briefing at The Economist Intelligence Unit, commented Wednesday, reports CNBC News.
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at minus-70 degree Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit) temperatures - unlike Oxford University and AstraZeneca's vaccine, which has not yet been approved. The latter vaccine- not having the seep-freeze requirements would make it operationally easier to roll out, said Hancock, who added, "but I just want to thank all of the scientists at BioNTech and Pfizer, who are manufacturing this who we've worked so closely with."
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