In a historic move for the world, the country's regulatory authority becomes first to approve vaccine, paving way for rollout next week.
In what has been regarded as a landmark moment in the first against the pandemic, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has granted emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. This follows the duo's announcement last month that its candidate was 95% effective at preventing Covid-19 infections. The approval spread much-needed optimism across the globe on Wednesday. The historic moment also means the UK is ahead of the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine for a virus that has led to 1.5 million deaths worldwide.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, expected to be produced at Pfizer's plant in Belgium. However, with two doses required for each person, these would only be enough for 20 million citizens - roughly a third of the country's population. An estimated 800,000 of these doses are expected to be available for roll out next week, with people most at risk, such as the elderly expected to be at the top of the recipients' list. The rollout plan for the vaccine requiring ultracold storage includes the 50 purposed hospitals, vaccination centers being currently set up as well as through a community vaccination programme.