The UK Becomes the First Country to Approve Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

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Vaccinations are set to begin next week with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the pharmaceutical giant has said trials show is 95 % effective.

A Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a global pandemic that has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy. 

Drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have been granted temporary authorization for emergency use of their Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the UK, the companies announced.

This marks the first time that citizens outside of the worldwide clinical trials will have the opportunity to be immunized against Covid-19, according to BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be made available across the UK starting next week, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement. More details will be released soon, including advice for priority groups like the elderly and health care staff to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“For so long we’ve been saying that if a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is developed, then things will get better in 2021, and now we can say when this Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is rolled out things will get better,” Hancock told.

The U.K. has ordered 40 million vaccine doses from Pfizer — enough for up to a third of the population.

“This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science would win,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a news release.

The Pfizer shots must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than standard cooling systems. To help accommodate the extra refrigeration requirement, Pfizer has developed a super cool storage unit packed with dry ice.

Nearly 1.5 million people around the world have died from the virus, with more than 271,000 deaths in the U.S. and nearly 60,000 deaths in the U.K.

The companies had previously signed an agreement to supply 40 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses to the UK with delivery in 2020 and 2021.

Other countries, including the United States, are considering approval for various corona-virus, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines before the end of the year..