UK first western country to approve COVID-19 vaccine

Joplin Area Coronavirus

Vaccine expected for UK distribution next week

The United Kingdom became the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution as of Wednesday, December 2. The UK authorized the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for emergency use and expect the first doses to be available next week

With officials hoping to start distribution next week, according to NPR, the UK has ordered 800,000 doses to be delivered from Belgium—where the vaccine is manufactured—next week. The UK has ordered a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Since the vaccine comes in two doses, this is expected to allow about 20 million individuals to receive the vaccine next year. 

The UK has ordered a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer states that their vaccine is “95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose.” This vaccine went from concept to approval in 10 months, according to NPR. 

Matt Hancock, UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, tweeted Wednesday morning that the National Health Service is ready to begin vaccinating those in high-priority groups as early as next week, wrote NPR. NPR also said in their Morning Edition podcast Wednesday that it’s expected for the elderly and those in nursing homes to receive the vaccine first. Following would be healthcare workers and then the general public for “bulk vaccinations.” 

NPR said in their podcast about this vaccine distribution that “psychologically this would really lift a huge weight off people here.” 

A “downside” NPR discussed about the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is that it must be stored at such low temperatures, which may make distribution more difficult. This vaccine must be stored in –94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degrees Celsius) temperatures. Because of this, the vaccine will start out at hospitals where proper storage facilities are available. 

The UK has also pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The UK has also pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which does not have to be stored at such low temperatures as Pfizer’s vaccine. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is currently under assessment by the regulator, according to NPR. 

NPR also reported that EU regulators are expected to assess the Moderna vaccine by January 12, 2021. 

United States regulators have yet to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.

United States regulators have yet to approve a COVID-19 vaccine. The US federal government has worked toward approving a vaccine through “Operation Warp Speed” since the pandemic started, writes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, Operation Warp Speed’s goal is “to deliver safe vaccines that work, with the first supply becoming available before the end of 2020.” NPR reported that the FDA is currently reviewing vaccines by both Pfizer and Moderna. 

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