The Philippine Star

UK approves Pfizer vaccine; use starts next week

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LONDON ( Reuters) – Britain yesterday became the first country in the world to approve the PfizerBioN­Tech COVID- 19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.

A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a global pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.

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

Britain’s vaccine committee will decide which priority groups will get the jab first such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and US biotech firm Moderna have reported preliminar­y findings of more than 90 percent effectiven­ess – an unexpected­ly high rate – in trials of their vaccines, which are both based on new messenger RNA technology.

Pfizer said Britain’s emergency use authorizat­ion marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19.

“This authorizat­ion is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” said CEO Albert Bourla.

“As we anticipate further authorizat­ions and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the program would begin early next week. Hospitals, he said, were already ready to receive it. “It is very good news,” Hancock said. Meanwhile, Parliament approved a system of regional COVID- 19 restrictio­ns for England on Tuesday despite a rebellion within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party which underlined growing unhappines­s at his handling of the pandemic.

More than 40 percent of people in England will be subject to the toughest tier of restrictio­ns on their daily life from today, when the government shifts to its new approach after a month of national lockdown, with just one percent in the lowest band.

”With the spread of the epidemic varying across the country, there remains a compelling case ... for regional tiers in England,” Johnson told parliament, batting away criticism from unhappy lawmakers.

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 ?? AFP, AP ?? READY FOR ROLLOUT: An employee makes dry ice pellets at Capitol Carbonic, a dry ice factory, in Baltimore, Maryland on Nov. 20. The factory received a call from Pfizer for dry ice to keep the US pharmaceut­ical firm’s COVID-19 vaccine at the right super cold temperatur­e. Insets show a thermal shipping box (above) developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, and an illustrati­on picture of the companies’ vaccine.
AFP, AP READY FOR ROLLOUT: An employee makes dry ice pellets at Capitol Carbonic, a dry ice factory, in Baltimore, Maryland on Nov. 20. The factory received a call from Pfizer for dry ice to keep the US pharmaceut­ical firm’s COVID-19 vaccine at the right super cold temperatur­e. Insets show a thermal shipping box (above) developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, and an illustrati­on picture of the companies’ vaccine.
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 ?? REUTERS ?? An informatio­n sign requests shoppers to wear masks at the entrance to a Tesco supermarke­t in Hatfield, Britain.
REUTERS An informatio­n sign requests shoppers to wear masks at the entrance to a Tesco supermarke­t in Hatfield, Britain.

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