Pfizer vaccine – Covid jab approved with mass vaccination from next week as Britain is first country to give green light

THE UK is the first country in the world to give a Covid vaccine the green light – with mass vaccination planned from next week.

The jab – which is 95 per cent effective and developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech – is safe for use, health regulators say.

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The drug has been backed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The news means that millions of Brits could soon receive it – in line with the Government's pledge to get the most vulnerable as soon as possible.

Care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the extremely vulnerable will get the jab first, it was confirmed.

It comes as:

  • Britain is first country in world to approve a jab
  • Mass vaccination programme to start from next week
  • 50 hospital set up and waiting to accept the jab
  • Pfizer vaccine offers 95 per cent protection
  • Care home residents and the elderly will be among the first to receive drug

Just days ago, it was announced that the drug was set to get the green light for use – and medics were told to prepare for approval in early December.

The UK regulator was formally asked by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to check the Pfizer vaccine and approve it.

This morning, he tweeted: "Help is on its way. The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19.

"The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.

"The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply."

Hospitals are now preparing their staff to start receiving the vaccine from Monday.

It has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 before immunisation.

Health bosses are gambling the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca jab, which can be kept in a normal fridge, will be approved soon after.

It will be transported to the UK from Belgium after the Government ordered a total of 40million doses – with 10m expected by the end of 2020.

Patients need two doses, meaning not enough shots have been secured for the entire UK population.

Royal Liverpool University Hospital trust is one of the sites that will be rolling out the vaccine.

An official from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.

"The NHS has decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes and will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination."

The Government has urged Brits to keep to the new tier system, which came into force at midnight today, to "further suppress the virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed".

An effective vaccine is seen as the main weapon in fighting the pandemic, which has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide.

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