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The United Kingdom Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine in the West


René F. Najera, DrPH

December 3, 2020

The British Government has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. With this, the COVID-19 vaccine becomes the fastest vaccine ever to go from conception to market, besting the mumps vaccine's 4-year development.

According to the Associated Press:

“The announcement sets the stage for the biggest vaccination campaign in British history and came just ahead of what experts are warning will be a long, dark winter, with the coronavirus surging to epic levels in recent weeks in the U.S. and Europe.

Officials cautioned that several tough months still lie ahead even in Britain, given the monumental task of inoculating large swaths of the population. Because of the limited initial supply, the first shots will be reserved for those most in danger, namely nursing home residents, the elderly and health care workers.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommended the vaccine after clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers showed it was 95% effective and turned up no serious side effects. The vaccine is still considered experimental while final testing is done.”

As the article states, it will be some time before a significant proportion of the population is immunized in order to make a dent on the pandemic. Because of this, public health authorities continue to recommend social distancing, face mask coverings and quarantine/isolation for exposed and COVID-19-positive people.


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