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Regulatory approval

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccination may start next week

Pfizer covid drug

Vaccination could start next week

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved by UK regulators, paving the way for a roll out from early next week, according to UK health minister Matt Hancock.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the jab which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine – enough for 20 million people, with two shots each.

Mr Hancock said: “We’re the first country in the world to have a clinically authorised vaccine to roll out.”

Scotland’s First Minister tweeted: “The best news in a long time.”

One challenge with the the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is that it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees.

First in line for a vaccine are likely to be care home residents and carers, followed by older age groups from 80-plus-year-olds and those with underlying health conditions.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.

“This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will shortly also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

James Athey, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments, commented: “Incoming news surrounding the development and distribution of COVID vaccinations continues to be unequivocally positive, and subsequently, is being cheered and welcomed by financial markets that are desperate for good news.

“This morning’s announcement that vaccination in the UK could begin as early as next week saw further gains for sterling.”

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said many people will be surprised at the “muted reaction” from the stock market to the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for widespread use.

“The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indices have both shrugged their shoulders to the news, almost as if they are saying ‘so what?’.

“This is the stock market functioning in the way it has always done. Share prices move as investors anticipate what they think will happen in the future, so you could argue that the vaccine news has already been priced in.

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“So far in November we’ve seen a near-15% jump the FTSE All-Share, which is a widely used benchmark for the UK stock market, as investors have bought companies which were previously hurt by the pandemic and could benefit from the reopening of society thanks to a vaccine.

“Now the vaccine has become reality, investors’ attention will naturally shift on to the next thing which could be the aftermath of Brexit, whether Joe Biden can push through his policies as the new US President, when the next giant wave of stimulus will come from the US, and so on.

“There is also the issue of the vaccine distribution to consider – how quickly can it be done and will those who haven’t had it remain fearful of mixing with others in public? There are still many hurdles to clear and many things for the market to digest.

“Fundamentally the vaccine approval is positive and while markets haven’t moved today, it does set a brighter tone for 2021 in terms of achieving economic recovery.”

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