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Pfizer, BioNTech’s Covid-19 Vaccine in the U.K.: What You Need to Know

The U.K. authorized a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech SE for emergency use, the first clearance by a Western government of one of three promising vaccines that have recently been shown to be effective against Covid-19.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the vaccine was safe to use. The government expects to start vaccinating people within days.

When will the vaccine be available in the U.K.?

Following Wednesday’s announcement by Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency that the vaccine is safe to use. The vaccine program is being rolled out by the state-run National Health Service, which expects to start vaccinating people in the highest priority groups next week.

Why does Britain get the shot first?

The U.K. moved ahead of the U.S. and the European Union to designate the vaccine safe and effective for use, based on data from clinical trials that were updated for what regulators call “rolling reviews” as the trials progressed. The U.K. government accepted the advice of the country’s medicines regulator and signed off on use of the vaccine. Other regulators also have been looking at data as trials progress. The U.S. has scheduled a public hearing in December to discuss the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; the EU medicines regulator also will hold an online public hearing in December about various Covid-19 vaccines.

When does it become available in the U.S.?

It may not be too long. A panel of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration is planning to review the vaccine on Dec. 10. The FDA could authorize it soon after, and supplies should become available not long after that. In fact, Pfizer has already started shipping shots to distribution sites.

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