The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has now been given to the first people in the world, outside trial conditions. This means the UK’s mass vaccination programme is officially underway and people around the country will now receive thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year. Margaret Keenan, 90, from Enniskillen who received the very first Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry said she felt “privileged” to receive the jab.
The jab has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.
Mr Hancock said there would be “three modes of delivery” of the vaccine, with hospitals, mass vaccination centres and GPs and pharmacists offering the jab to those most in need.
He said: “Fifty hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s approved, so that can now happen.”
The coronavirus vaccine has been widely hailed as the best chance of returning life to normal.
READ MORE: Is Pfizer a British company? Where is Pfizer located?
The elderly will be vaccinated first, along with healthcare and care workers.
The NHS was told to prepare to begin issuing doses of the vaccine in December according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The NHS has planned to create 1,500 vaccination sites within weeks.
The jab will then be rolled out to all those at highest risk before it is given to all over-50s and younger people with health conditions.
With 40 million doses, one-third of the British population should be able to get the vaccination.
Who developed the Pfizer vaccine?
The vaccine was designed and developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The companies own the intellectual property meaning it can only be made by Pfizer.
The pharmaceutical companies have the manufacturing capacity to create 1.3 billion doses by the end of next year.
However, they may choose to partner with other companies to increase capacity.
Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, is an American firm.
BioNTech is a German biotechnology company dedicated to the development and manufacture of active immunotherapies for a patient-specific approach to the treatment of serious disease.
Reacting to the news the vaccine had been approved, Nadhim Zahawi, the newly-appointed minister responsible for overseeing the vaccination rollout, tweeted: “Major step forward in the fight against Covid-19 today.”
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.
“To everyone involved in this breakthrough: thank you.
“In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “the best news in a long time”.
She tweeted: “scotgov ready to start vaccinations as soon as supplies arrive.”
What is the latest on British vaccines?
Oxford University and AstraZeneca are expected to publish data shortly, which means their vaccine could also be given the green light.
Vaccine trial chief investigator Andrew Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee he is “optimistic” the University of Oxford trial could present late-stage results, possibly revealing whether it works, before the end of the year.
He said: “There is a small chance of that being possible but I just don’t know.
“Our trials are only one of many that are going on around the world, a number of which may well report before the end of the year.”