United Kingdom Wednesday gave emergency approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for mass inoculations in Britain against a disease that has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
The emergency approval makes UK the first country to greenlight mass inoculations against the virus, ahead of United States and other western nations.
The approval arrived at a perilous moment in the pandemic in Britain where the virus has killed 66,000 people, and hundreds more each day.
According to New York Times, the authorization to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer, a U.S. pharmaceutical giant, and BioNTech, a much smaller German firm, kicked off a vaccination campaign with little precedent in modern medicine, encompassing not only ultracold dry ice and trays of glass vials but also a crusade against anti-vaccine misinformation.
Russia and China have already approved vaccines without waiting for the results of large-scale efficacy tests, a decision that scientists in some cases have said poses serious risks.
The emergency approval given to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by UK may intensify pressure on US regulators, who are yet to give approval.
Pfizer has said it expects to be able to produce up to 50 million doses this year, about half of them going to the United States. Since each person needs two doses, a month apart, up to 25 million people worldwide could begin vaccination before 2021.
The United States has bought 100 million doses in advance from Pfizer, and the European Union 200 million doses.