Additional reporting PA
On Wednesday the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.
"The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use," the government said.
"The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week."
Pfizer said Britain's emergency use authorization marks 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 MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the U.K.,” said CEO Albert Bourla.
"As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the programme would begin early next week. Hospitals, he said, were already ready to receive it.
"It is very good news," Hancock said.
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.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) December 2, 2020
Meanwhile, the UK's Business Secretary Alok Sharma tweeted: “The UK was the first country to sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech – now we will be the first to deploy their vaccine
Also, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the news a vaccine has been approved for use in the UK was the “best news in a long time”.
She tweeted: “@scotgov ready to start vaccinations as soon as supplies arrive.”
A spokesperson for the UK's Department of Health and Social Care added: “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.
“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.Further details will be set out shortly."
Irish politicians also welcomed the news, with Higher Education Minister Simon Harris saying on Twitter: "Very significant day in global effort against Covid-19.“
“Really looking forward to Ireland’s vaccination plan this month. 2021 can be a year of progress & hope. But it is crucial we continue to follow public health advice. Massive amount of work ahead in the coming weeks & months."
Very significant day in global effort against #Covid19. Really looking forward to Ireland’s vaccination plan this month. 2021 can be a year of progress & hope. But it is crucial we continue to follow public health advice. Massive amount of work ahead in the coming weeks & months https://t.co/KuDjWDGyQa
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) December 2, 2020
Meanwhile, speaking about the EU's approval of the vaccine, Public Expenditure Minister, Michael McGrath, said: “The approving authority is the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and they have signalled that they have received the application from Pfizer and BioNtech.”
He said they will be meeting on December 29th and they may make a decision as early as then or by January 12th.
He added “It is a matter of weeks away, so we need to let it take its course.”