UK approves Covid-19 vaccine as NHS ready to provide jab ‘within days’
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The UK has become the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine for supply.
Regulators have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine – with the NHS ready to start the roll out next week.
Scientists found the vaccine offers up to 95% protection against the virus and works in all age groups.
The Government said the approval follows "months of rigorous clinical trials" which found it met its standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Britain has already ordered 40million doses, which are enough to vaccinate 20million people as it requires two shots each.
The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) is due to set out its priority list later on Wednesday.
It comes as England leaves the second national lockdown and returns to the regional tiered system of restrictions today.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Help is on its way.
“The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19.
“The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.
“The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma added: "The UK was the first country to sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech – now we will be the first to deploy their vaccine
"To everyone involved in this breakthrough: thank you.
"In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity's charge against this disease."
Pfizer said Britain's emergency use authorisation marks a historic moment in the fight against Covid.
CEO Albert Bourla said: "This authorisation 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.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman 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 Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will also publish its latest 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 spokesman added: "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.”
The vaccine has to be stored at around -70C and will be transported in special boxes, packed in dry ice.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was the "best news in a long time".
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