COVID-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine now in the UK, Sky News understands | UK News

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now in the UK and is being delivered to the devolved nations, Sky News understands.

The UK is the first western country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use, and it is expected to be rolled out across the country on Tuesday.

The vaccine is manufactured in Belgium and needs to be stored at -70C (-94F) before it is administered.

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Earlier it was brought on lorries through the Eurotunnel.

The vaccine will be distributed to 50 hospital hubs next week, with the over-80s and care home staff first in line to get one.

Jabs will then be delivered from mass vaccination hubs in places like conference halls and sports arenas, with GPs surgeries and health centres likely to follow.

As more doses become available, possibly in the new year, the vaccination will be administered to the other risk groups. The bulk of vaccinations are expected to take place between January and April.

However, those in care homes and the housebound face a delay due to the difficulties of transporting and storing the vaccine at such low temperatures.

It comes as the international community raised eyebrows over how quickly the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the COVID-19 vaccine.

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America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, questioned the level of scrutiny.

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claimed American regulators “would do a more thorough job” of assessing the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

While the World Health Organisation offered a toned down response to MHRA’s decision, simply stating the approval had been “acknowledged”.

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In response to the comments, the MHRA said in a statement: “We have rigorously assessed the data in the shortest time possible, without compromising the thoroughness of our review.”

Despite this, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the UK is getting a coronavirus vaccine first because it is a “much better country” than France, Belgium and the US.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday there would be “immense logistical challenges” in distributing the vaccine, and that it would take “some months” for all of the most vulnerable people to be protected against coronavirus.

The government has ordered 40 million doses of the jab so far, enough to immunise 20 million people – with an initial shipment of 800,000 doses.

Although, experts have agreed that multiple different vaccines will be needed to cover the entire global population.

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There are over 170 coronavirus vaccines in development across the globe, but there are a handful of frontrunners which are in the last stages of checks and could soon become available like the Pfizer jab.

A British/Swedish group from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has also submitted their vaccine for approval in the UK.

Meanwhile, scientists from American company Moderna are seeking approval from US and EU regulators to allow emergency use of their jab.

On Wendneaday, Russia announced it will begin large-scale vaccinations using its jab called Sputnik V next week, and the Chinese military has approved another one made by CanSino Biologics.

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