As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January.
Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.
Moderna last week released preliminary data for its vaccine showing 94.5% effectiveness.
The better-than-expected results from the two vaccines, both developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, have raised hopes of an easing of a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people.
In the US, the head of the US vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN.
Citing government sources, the Telegraph also said the UK’s National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December.
Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The UK Department of Health had no comment on Sunday on when the first vaccinations would be administered.
Britain has ordered 40m doses and expects to have 10m doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.
Germany could also start administering shots of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as next month, health minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying on Sunday. He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.
“There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” Spahn said in an interview with publishing group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “And then we can start right away.”
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