UK to give first Covid-19 vaccinations as the world watches – Health News Today

Vaccinations are set to begin on Tuesday in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland said it would start administering the vaccine early in the week but did not specify which day.

The process, which is complicated by the need to store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine under strict conditions and give each recipient two doses, three weeks apart, will be closely watched from around the world.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told Sky News on Sunday that 50 hospital hubs across England had already received their allocation of the vaccine, and that the distribution of the vaccine was “really well underway now.”

UK health officials expect to have up to 4 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19, available by the end of December, Cordery said.

The government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine so far, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or a third of the UK population. More deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.

The speed with which UK regulators approved the vaccine — ahead of their counterparts elsewhere in Europe and in the United States — raised questions in some quarters. But Cordery said the process had been “incredibly robust.”

“Yes, it has been shorter than other vaccine approval processes, but that’s because everything all has been thrown at this all in one go,” she said.

The head of the UK medicines regulator also put out assurances on Sunday, saying the Pfizer/BioNTech jab is “as safe as any general vaccine” and that those receiving it would be monitored by health officials.

“You might have a mild symptom but it will probably disappear in a day or two, and nothing at all of a serious nature,” June Raine, head of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told the BBC.

According to the MHRA, more than one in 10 recipients may suffer side effects including pain at the injection site, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. A handful of other, less common, side effects are also listed.
Asked about the potential impact of Brexit on the vaccination program, Raine said: “We’ve practiced, we are ready and we are fully prepared for any possible outcome.”
The transition period for the UK’s exit from the European Union comes to an end on December 31. Last-ditch talks between EU and UK leaders on a trade deal continued over the weekend, amid dire warnings over the economic and logistic chaos that would result from a hard crash out of the world’s largest trading bloc.

“Our goal at the HMRA is to make sure that whatever the outcome, whatever the deal, medicines, medical devices, and vaccines reach everyone in all parts of the country in the same way without any interruption at all,” Raine said.

Logistical challenge

The first doses of the vaccine reportedly arrived in the UK on Thursday night, carried by a fleet of unmarked trucks through the Eurotunnel from Belgium to…

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