December 02, 20 - 9:12 am - LABS

First of the West: UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The United Kingdom approved Pfizer‘s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, jumping ahead of the United States and Europe to formally become the West’s first country to grant authorization for a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Pfizer and BioNTech are anticipating further regulatory decisions across the globe in the coming days and weeks and are ready to deliver vaccine doses following potential regulatory authorizations or approvals. In the U.K, vaccination will begin with the most vulnerable people early next week.

In Latin America, Mexico and Ecuador have deals to acquire Pfizer’s vaccine. But Brazil is not on this list.

According to G1, Brazil’s Secretary of Health Surveillance, Arnaldo Medeiros, said that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not part of Brazil’s immunization plans. That’s because Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at -70°C, which implies a logistical problem. Moderna’s vaccine can withstand a short time in temperatures down to -8°C but needs to be transported at -20°C.

“Today’s Emergency Use Authorization in the U.K. marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19. 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.,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, in a press statement.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world. With thousands of people becoming infected, every day matters in the collective race to end this devastating pandemic.”

In the Eastern world, China has already given emergency approval for three experimental vaccines and has inoculated around 1 million people since July. Russia has been vaccinating frontline workers after approving its Sputnik V shot in August before it had completed late-stage testing on safety and efficacy, reported Reuters.