Coronavirus news: UK could get Pfizer vaccine before US with NHS on standby | UK | News (Reports)


Pfizer and BioNTech reported last week their vaccine candidate is 95 percent effective in developing antibodies against COVID-19. Now Britain’s drug regulator could make a decision this week over whether the NHS can roll out the vaccine to the population by December. It comes as Britain’s own vaccine candidate has published promising interim data, showing it can be up to 90 percent effective.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulator Agency (MHRA) will begin a formal appraisal over the Pfizer vaccine soon, after being asked by the Government last week to assess the American jab.

According to the Telegraph, a Government source has said in the “best case scenario” the regulator will give the all clear to the jab in under a week.

The NHS has already been told to get ready to administer the jab by the start of next month.

But as the MHRA is set to begin appraising the Pfizer jab, the US Food and Drug Administration will not start ruling on the vaccine until December 10.

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Coronavirus news: Matt Hancock at a Downing Street press briefing and a coronavirus vaccine mock up

Coronavirus news: The UK could get the Pfizer vaccine first with the MHRA urged to act fast of approving the jab (Image: PA)

Coronavirus news: The UK's coronavirus data for Sunday November 22

Coronavirus news: It comes after the UK has recorded 18,662 cases and 398 deaths yesterday (Image: EXPRESS)

While the FDA will not start appraising Pfizer’s vaccine candidate until mid-December, they are expected to make a ruling within a day and will roll out the jab quickly after the green-light.

Dr Moncef Slaoui, head of President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine drive, said on Sunday that Pfizer’s jab would be administered “a day or two after approval”.

The Department of Health, which oversees the MHRA, has stressed the regulation process will take as long as necessary to ensure safety.

A spokesman for the UK Government said: “An enormous amount of planning has taken place to ensure our health service stands ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Coronavirus news: Pfizer logo in Seoul, South Korea

Coronavirus news: Pfizer’s vaccine candidate has been found to be 95 percent effective against COVID-19 (Image: PA)

Coronavirus news: Matt Hancock at a Downing Street press briefing

Coronavirus news: Matt Hancock stressed the MHRA is independent and will take as much time as needed to approve the jab (Image: PA)

Mr Hancock also stressed that the MHRA is an independent body and will take as long as it needs to assess the Pfizer jab, making clear he does not want to “impinge on their independence”.

The Health Secretary said last week, when asked if the MHRA has given him an assurance on the time taken to approve a vaccine: “It is absolutely a question for them how long they take, I’m not going to pre-judge that at all.”

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he “more and more confident” life will be close to normal for Britons by spring due to the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines.

He added: “If the regulator approves a vaccine we will be ready to start the vaccination next month with the bulk of roll-out in the new year.

“We are heading in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.”

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UK officials have ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with two doses of the jab needed to properly induce antibodies.

If the MHRA approves the candidate, Britain is set to receive 10 million doses by the end of the year.

The first groups to get the vaccine are set to be elderly care home residents and workers, as per the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s recommendations.

Leaked NHS documents seen by the Health Service Journal claimed all adults under-50 would then be allowed to get the jab by the end of January if supplies allow.

Coronavirus news: timeline for coronavirus vaccine priorities

Coronavirus news: Current UK plans hold care home residents and workers are first to get any coronavirus vaccine (Image: EXPRESS)

Coronavirus news: Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from Downing Street during PMQ's

Coronavirus news: Boris Johnson is set to unveil a new tier-system as the UK leaves lockdown on Decemver 2 (Image: PA)

It comes as the UK’s own coronavirus vaccine candidate, Oxford University and AstraZeneca, have published interim data showing the British jab is up to 90 percent effective in developing COVID-19 immunity.

While the data suggests 70 percent efficacy, researchers from Oxford said the protection could be boosted with a larger dose.

Experts also pointed out that the Pfizer vaccine will need to be stored at -80C (-112F), whereas the Oxford jab will only need to stay at standard fridge temperatures..

Pfizer’s candidate will also cost more for the UK per dose, with a Telegraph report claiming the US vaccine costs £29.47 for two doses versus Oxford’s £2.23.

The UK has reported a further 18,662 cases and 398 deaths from coronavirus yesterday, according to the Office of National Statistics.

In total Britain has recorded 1,515,802 cases and 55,120 deaths from the virus as per Johns Hopkins university’s COVID-19 tracker.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil the UK’s route out of lockdown later today, with the country gearing up for a return to the tier system.

Britain has been in a second national lockdown since November 5, with the current restrictions set to end on December 2.


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