The UK has just approved the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine—and it will be made available across the country in a matter of days.
News of a vaccine has given many people hope over the last few weeks, and just this morning (December 2), the Pfizer/BioNTech jab has been given the green light by the health regulation authority. It is believed that the UK is the first in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine ready for supply. In other words, it will be the first time anyone outside of trials will be immunised.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine so far, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people. Delivery of these doses will start right away, with 10m set to arrive before 2020 is up. Of course, high risk groups will take priority when rolling out the jab, such as care home staff and their residents, the over 80s and NHS staff.
A full priority list has been published today, with NHS staff and patients likely to get the vaccine first because storage of the jab at freezing temperatures is easiest in hospitals. Some care home staff will be included too.
When more doses are delivered, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that people are given the vaccine in the following order:
1. Residents in a care home for older adults, and their carers
2. Everyone aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
3. Everyone aged 75 and over
4. Everyone aged 70 and over, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable
5. Everyone aged 65 and over
6. People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death from Covid-19
7. Everyone aged 60 and over
8. Everyone aged 55 and over
9. Everyone aged 50 and over
These groups cover 90 to 99% of those at risk of dying from Covid-19, according to the JCVI.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the news in a tweet this morning, stating: “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.”
The Pfizer vaccine, which has proven to have a 95% rate of effectiveness, needs to be stored at incredibly low temperatures—below -70°C, in fact—which will prove to be a challenge. However, according to The Guardian, Pfizer and BioNTech say that it can be stored for up to five days in a standard fridge (so between 2 and 8°C).
More to follow.