Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Approved by the U.K

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  • Last month Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization of its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Europe, and Japan.
  • On Wednesday, the U.K. became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.
  • The vaccine is expected to become available for use in the U.K. from next week 

On Wednesday, United Kingdom (U.K) approved the emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The decision was based on a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

This authorization 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 U.K.

Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer

UK Orders 40 million Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine 

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is an mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine. The injected viral mRNA causes the body to produce viral protein. This then triggers an immune response as a result of antibody production. The Moderna vaccine that is currently pending approval, is also based on mRNA technology. 

Earlier results from the phase 3 clinical trials had shown vaccine efficacy of 95%. Furthermore, even among adults aged 65 years and older the vaccine had an efficacy of 94%.

According to MHRA, vaccinations will likely begin next week. The first few doses will likely go to frontline workers and the elderly. The U.K has ordered over 40 million doses of the vaccine which is administered in two doses. Thus, making it enough to vaccinate 20 million people. 

It is realistic to hope that by March or April the vast majority of older people, care home residents, and those with severe conditions will have been immunized. We can then work towards wider immunization – with ideally much of the population covered in time for next winter.

Prof Liam Smeeth, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Despite the promising news, delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine remains a challenge. The vaccine requires temperatures of around -75°C and remains viable in the fridge for 5 days. Therefore, likely making a delivery in areas where there are no cold storage facilities difficult.

FDA Under Pressure

U. K’s approval has further increased pressure on the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will reach a decision by December 10th and by December 17th for the Moderna vaccine. Moreover, the Oxford vaccine is also currently under review by the regulatory agencies. 

It is still too early to predict how long immunity will last from the vaccine. However, widespread vaccination will hopefully return some form of normalcy to the world.


Department of Health and Social Care. (2020, December 02). UK authorises Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Retrieved December 02, 2020, from


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