Britain on Wednesday approved emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from next week in the country.
The approval came after the country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness after months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data.
“It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again,” Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted after the approval of the vaccine.
The first 800,000 doses will be available in the country from next week, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, according to a report in BBC.
Care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable will receive the vaccine on priority basis.
“The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunizations (JCVI) will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine,” a UK Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said in a statement.
Drug makers Pfizer and BioNTech previously signed an agreement to supply a total of 40 million doses of their Covid-19 mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2) to the UK with delivery in 2020 and 2021.
The approval from the UK constitutes the first emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine following a worldwide Phase 3 trial which demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95 percent.
In a separate statement, Pfizer and BioNTech said they are anticipating further regulatory decisions across the globe in the coming days and weeks and are ready to deliver vaccine doses following potential regulatory authorizations or approvals.
“Today’s emergency use authorization in the U.K. marks a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19,” said Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO, Pfizer.
“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.”
The companies have already filed a request for emergency use authorization with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Based on current projections, Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s combined manufacturing network has the potential to supply globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021 — subject to manufacturing capacity and regulatory approval or authorization.
Pfizer said it has an established infrastructure to supply the vaccine worldwide, including distribution hubs that can store vaccine doses for up to six months, although the company does not expect that the product will need to be stored at any location for more than 30 days due to the high demand.