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UK to roll out Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine next week

3rd Dec 2020
UK to roll out Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine next week

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA): The UK has become the first country to allow the use of the Pfizer/BioNtech coronavirus vaccine on the public after the country’s regulator clinically approved the jab on Wednesday.

The vaccine, which provides 95% protection against COVID-19, will be rolled out as early as next week, according to a government statement.

“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use,” it said.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urged people not to be “carried away with over-optimism”. He told MPs: “It is very important that people do not get their hopes up too soon about the speed with which we will be able to roll out this vaccine.” The prime minister urged people to stick to social distancing rules because it would “inevitably take some months before all the most vulnerable are protected”.

At the technical briefing on Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Downing Street on Wednesday, the panel consisted of Dr June Raine (Chief Executive of the MHRA), Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed (Chair of Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group) and Prof Wei Shen Lim (Chair of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).

Dr June Raine, assured the public that they had carried out “rigorous” scientific assessment of the vaccine at Downing Street press conference Wednesday.

Raine said that it “carried out rigorous scientific assessment of all available evidence of quality, safety & effectiveness” of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and that “public’s safety has always been at forefront of our minds.”

“No corners have been cut, none at all,” Raine said.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed said approval of the vaccine was a “historic moment”.

He told the press conference: “We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic and I think this is a historic moment.

“The UK is now one step closer to providing a safe and effective vaccine to help in the fight against Covid-19, a virus that has affected each and every one of us in some way.

“This will help to save lives.”

Wei Shen Lim said the body had advised on how the jab might by used in the “first phase” of the programme but had not yet given advice about future phases.

The priority list starts with older people in care homes and workers there. Next are all people over 80 and those who work in healthcare and social care, followed by anyone over the age 75 and then over the age of 70.

The full priority list is here, starting with the highest priority:

Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers.
All those over 80 years of age and over. Frontline health and social care workers.
All those 75 years of age and over.
All those 70 years of age and over. Clinically vulnerable individuals.
All those 65 years of age and over.
All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
All those 60 years of age and over.
All those 55 years of age and over.
All those 50 years of age and over.
The government said the prioritization depended in part on vaccine supply.

Sir Simon Stevens, head of the health service in England, said that the initial distribution of 800,000 doses would begin from 50 “hospital hubs” next week.

Jonathan Vam-Tam,  deputy chief medical officer, is to spearhead the Government’s advertising campaign around the Pfizer vaccine, as ministers look to encourage take-up among the general public.

The vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), as its approval is still pending in the US and Europe.

‘Help on the way,” but rules remain

“We need to all abide by these measures and we need to stick with it – let’s stick with it because help is on its way,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, speaking to SkyNews.

Hancock said the vaccine would be delivered by hospitals, vaccination centers, doctors, and pharmacies across the country.

“We can now see the way out and we can see by the spring we’re going to be through this,” he said.

“Let’s not let up and lose our resolve now – follow those rules,” he reiterated.

The vaccine candidate BNT162b2, developed by Turkish-German scientist Ugur Sahin’s company BioNTech, has an efficacy rate of more than 94% in adults 65 and over, according to the results of a Phase 3 clinical study.

BioNTech and Pfizer are planning to manufacture more than 50 million doses by the end of this year and potentially over 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

British authorities had said they have ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine.

Lockdown ends, 3-tier system begins

The hopeful news came on a day England emerged from a four-week national lockdown and entered a strict three-tier system.

Many shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as gyms, are opening their doors for the public on Wednesday in zones marked Tier 1 or 2.

The House of Commons approved the new system last night in a 291-78 vote, with the opposition Labour Party abstaining, putting more than 55 million people in the strictest two tiers, 2 and 3.

The government is expected to review the situation and tier zones in mid-December before the start of the holiday season.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Chief Executive, Dr June Raine holds a Covid-19 Data Briefing & press conference with Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group, Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Professor Wei Shen Lim in 10 Downing Street on 2 December 2020.. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street]




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