The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was found to have a 95 percent success rate in trial participants. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK Government has already asked the medicine regulator in the country to assess the suitability of the vaccine for a potential authorisation before December. Mr Hancock said: “Pfizer/BioNTech announced this morning that it has submitted for emergency use authorisation from the FDA based on phase-3 data that shows the vaccine is 95 percent effective with no serious safety concerns.
“Here in the UK, the first step of authorising the vaccine is for the Government to ask the independent regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to assess its suitability.
“The MHRA, which acts for the entire UK, is one of the most respected regulators and I can confirm the Government has asked the MHRA to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for its suitability for authorisation.”
Mr Hancock continued: “This is another important step forward in tackling this pandemic.
“If a vaccine is approved, it will, of course, be available across the UK from our NHS, free at the point of delivery, according to need not ability to pay.
“We’ve procured vaccines on behalf of all parts of our country and I’m working with the devolved administrations to ensure it’s devolved fairly to all across the UK. We will prioritise groups who are at greatest risk.”
Discussing timings, Mr Hancock insisted the roll-out will depend on whether an authorisation is granted in the next few weeks and on the speed of production.
The Health Secretary however insisted the NHS and other public health officials are ready to be deployed to begin vaccination as soon as a jab is available.
He said: “I know everyone wants to know about the timing and the speed of the roll-out.
The Health Secretary said the NHS has already been organising to proceed with vaccination as soon as the jab obtains authorisation from the MHRA.
He also reconfirmed the first round of vaccination will be focused on medical staff and carers.
Mr Hancock added: “The roll-out of the vaccine will be a massive logistical challenge but I know the NHS can do it, not least because they deliver the flu vaccine programme each year.
“And the NHS is in the process of establishing vaccination centres across the country that can manage the logistical challenge of storing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at -70C.
“In addition, it is establishing vaccination hubs in hospitals for NHS staff. These two routes are likely to comprise the bulk of the campaign this side of the new year, then there will be a community roll-out involving GPs and pharmacists.”