Inoculations with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab could start in less than a week
On december 2nd Britain became the first country to permit the general use of a fully tested covid-19 vaccine. The decision to grant this emergency authorisation had been made late the previous evening by the country’s Medicines and Healthcare-products Regulatory Agency (mhra).
The vaccine licensed is code-named bnt162b2 and was developed by Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical giant, and BioNTech, a smaller German firm. It has an efficacy of 95%, a figure that seems consistent across a range of ages and ethnicities. Britain had already ordered 40m doses of bnt162b2 and Pfizer, as soon as it was informed of the decision, activated the procedures needed to start importing it from the site in Puurs, Belgium, where it is being made. The plan is to start vaccinating people on December 7th, and Matt Hancock, Britain’s chief health minister (pictured), has said that he expects “a matter of millions of doses” of the vaccine to be available in the country by the end of the year.
According to Pfizer, other countries are now looking to Britain and wondering if they can similarly speed up their regulatory processes. And the World Health Organisation, which runs an emergency licensing procedure for countries without medical regulators, said on December 2nd that it was in discussions with the mhra about the details of that agency’s assessment, in order to expedite its own work in this area.