Drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have been granted temporary authorization for emergency use of their Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, the companies announced.
This marks the first time that citizens outside of the worldwide clinical trials will have the opportunity to be immunized against Covid-19, according to BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
The vaccine will be made available across the UK starting next week, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement. More details will be released soon, including advice for priority groups like the elderly and health care staff to receive the vaccine.
“To aid the success of the vaccination programme it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions in their area so we can further suppress the virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed,” the spokesperson said.
Pfizer and BioNTech previously said that analysis of the vaccine showed it was 95% effective with no safety concerns.
“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 statement added.
In a news release, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla hailed the emergency authorization as “a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19.”
“This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the (Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” he said.
Sahin added that the regulatory data was the result of “a scientifically rigorous and highly ethical research and development program.”
The companies had previously signed an agreement to supply 40 million doses to the UK with delivery in 2020 and 2021.
Other countries, including the United States, are considering approval for various coronavirus vaccines before the end of the year.