"The vaccine will be made available across the UK"
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for widespread use in the UK.
British regulator, the MHRA, says the vaccine is safe to be rolled out in the week commencing December 7, 2020.
The jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19, uses a fragment of genetic code from the virus to teach the body how to fight Covid-19 and build immunity.
It is a new mRNA vaccine which has never been approved for use in humans, however, people have had them in clinical trials.
The vaccine is made in Belgium and must be stored at around -70°C. It will be transported in special boxes, packed in dry ice. Once delivered, it can be kept for up to five days in a fridge.
Immunisations could start within days for those who need it the most, such as the elderly and vulnerable.
As more stocks become available in 2021, everyone over 50 and younger people with pre-existing health conditions can receive the vaccine.
The vaccine will be two injections, 21 days apart. It takes a few weeks for immunity to build.
The UK has already ordered 40 million doses, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
Around 10 million doses should become available, with the first 800,000 arriving in the UK in the coming days.
It is the fastest ever vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking just 10 months to follow the same steps that normally take 10 years.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said:
“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the 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 will shortly 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.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted:
“It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that citizens will be contacted by the NHS when it is their turn to receive the jab.
He added that the UK can return to some normality by Easter 2021 and indicated that no restrictions would be needed by the summer.
NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said the health service was getting ready for “the largest-scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history”.
Approximately 50 hospitals are on standby. Vaccination centres are also being set up.
While this is a positive step in the fight against Covid-19, people still need to follow the rules to stop the spread.
According to Pfizer and BioNTech, their 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.