The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with roll out planned for early next week, becoming the first Western country to approve a vaccine.
The UK’s independent health regulator has approved the vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine – enough for 20 million people, with two shots each.
Around 10m doses should be available soon, with the first doses arriving in the UK in the coming days.
There will be three modes of vaccine delivery in the UK; via hospitals, vaccine centres, and community rollouts via pharmacists and GPs.
Health minister Matt Hancock told Sky News: “We’re the first country in the world to have a clinically authorised vaccine to roll out.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees. Hancock said the caveat proposed some challenges, “but NHS stands by. It’s not easy but we’ve got those plans in place.”
The UK government has a priority list for vaccinating people against coronavirus. First in line for a vaccine are care home residents and carers, followed by older age groups from 80-plus-year-olds, going down to 65-plus-year-olds. Then adults with underlying health conditions, then 50-plus-year-olds, going down the age bands.
Last week the government urged the health regulator to approve the Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccine for emergency supply. The Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccine does not have to be stored at minute 70 degrees, and would therefore be less challenging to roll out.
The Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccine is 70 per cent effective against the virus after a first jab, and moves up to 90 per cent upon having a second jab.