Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine just few hours away from the UK, says Deputy CMO


  • The UK is expected to receive the first lot of the coronavirus vaccine “very shortly”
  • The vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech needs to be administered under unusual climatic conditions to maintain its viability
  • Deputy CMO Jonathan Van-Tam has warned not to break the coronavirus guidance as the virus threat is still not over

The United Kingdom administration is all set to get the very first doses of the clinically-approved coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech much ahead than other countries, especially the United States, where the vaccine is still under Food and Drug Administration scrutiny.

The emergency authorisation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on 2 December has cleared the deployment of the vaccine which has 95% efficacy in preventing the deadly virus and has created havoc around the world killing 1.5 million people till date.

Covid-19 vaccine arriving very soon!

The UK expects to receive the first lot of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate “very, very shortly”, deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said in an interaction with BBC, adding that “I do mean hours.”

Professor Van-Tam further used a football analogy to explain the prevailing coronavirus situation, asserting that people should not start practising a carefree attitude in following the prescribed guidelines issued by the government that are mandated with the due purpose of containing the spread of the deadly virus.

The government wants people to realise that a Covid-19 vaccine is not an instant ticket to roam anywhere at the moment. People should continue to follow the guidance as the nation is slated to witness the hard months of winter soon, Professor Van-Tam added.

Vaccine primacy

Following the regulator’s go-ahead, the coronavirus vaccine will be made available to the priority groups from the coming week. Within the groups, residents in care homes with older adults, frontline health and care workers, individuals between 70 and 80 years and clinically vulnerable individuals.

The decision for the preference of vaccination will be taken with the due consideration of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendations. Of the 40 million vaccine doses secured from Pfizer/BioNTech, the UK is expected to receive as much as 800,000 vaccine shots by next week.

Straight from Belgium

The vaccine will arrive in the UK from Pfizer’s Belgium facility that includes several quality assurance checks upon the arrival. The delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine requires extreme climatic conditions as the doses are mandatorily necessitated to be kept at a very cold temperature (minus 70 degree Celsius).

Next week, around 50 "hospital hubs" will start administering the vaccines first to people over 80 and care, home staff. Following that doctors will start giving away the vaccines at their offices, which are around 1,000 in England.

Total secured doses

The UK has procured nearly 357 million doses from various global vaccine candidates. The domestic pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has agreed to provide as much as 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses that are being developed in association with the University of Oxford.

The UK government is further expected to receive 217 million vaccine doses from pharmaceutical and biotech firms, including GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, Valneva, Novavax, Janssen, and Moderna.