EPIDEMIC: The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has been authorized by the United Kingdom health authorities, a first in the world
The coronavirus vaccination campaign in the United Kingdom is due to begin on Tuesday. British Health Minister Matt Hancock on Sunday hailed a “historic” moment.
Country hardest hit in Europe by the pandemic with more than 61,000 deaths, the United Kingdom is the first in the world to have authorized the deployment of the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and will be the first Western country to start its vaccination campaign. Matt Hancock, who recently referred to the first day of the vaccination campaign as “V-day”, noted that “the coming week is a historic moment”.
Caregivers and seniors first
“We put the most vulnerable first and the over 80s, the staff of retirement homes” and the public health service “will be among the first to receive the vaccines,” he said in a statement on Sunday. . Its staff “work all weekend to prepare for the launch of the program, the first vaccinations taking place from Tuesday,” said the NHS England.
To do this, “hubs” are set up in 50 English hospitals, then 1,000 vaccination centres will be organized, according to the Ministry of Health. The constraints induced by this vaccine, which must be stored at -70 ° C, represent a logistical challenge, underline the health authorities. They must be transported by a specialized company and their thawing takes several hours.
Use of the army in case of need
The country has ordered 40 million doses of this vaccine, protecting 20 million people, two injections being necessary. 800,000 doses will be available initially in the UK.
According to some British newspapers, Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, will be vaccinated soon, the Mail on Sunday saying they plan to make it public in order “to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated ”, while the authorities fear that anti-vaccine activists will sow doubt in the population.
Despite the speed with which the UK regulator approved the vaccine, its executive director June Raine repeated on the BBC on Sunday that “the highest international standards” have been applied. In order to avoid any Brexit- related complications after the end of the transition period on December 31, the government is considering resorting to army planes in the event of border delays. “We will do it if necessary,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told the newspaper.