MHRA Authorises Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The UK’s medical regulator has become the first in the world to authorise use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination will begin early next week.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “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. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week. The NHS has decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes and will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.

“To aid the success of the vaccination programme it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions in their area so we can further suppress the virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed.

“Further details will be set out shortly.”

England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that vaccination would begin “early next week”

The MHRA review of the vaccine was announced on 20 November. 

The news came as England moved from a national lockdown to a revised three tier system.

Storage Issues

The UK has ordered 40 million of the vaccine doses, which is enough for up to a third of the population.

Initial data shows the vaccine is 94% effective in protecting people over 65 years old from coronavirus and clinical trials have not reported any serious safety concerns

Pfizer said it would be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion next year.

The vaccine poses logistical and supply chain problems as it requires cold chain refrigeration at -70C.

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