UK approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Britain has become the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, jumping ahead of the United States and other European nations after its regulator cleared a shot developed by Pfizer for emergency use in record time.
The vaccine will be rolled out from early next week in a major coup for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, which has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus crisis with Britain enduring the worst official COVID-19 death toll in Europe.
A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.
Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff.
The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same steps that normally span 10 years.
The UK is the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, and plans to begin distributing it next week https://t.co/aLgZcYu6YG— CNN (@CNN) December 2, 2020
The Australian government has welcomed the vaccine's approval but says the decision will not fast-track its approval in Australia.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said pharmaceutical company Pfizer continues to work with Australian regulators towards the vaccine's approval for use in Australia, which is not expected until the end of January.
"I have again spoken to the Australian CEO of Pfizer, they remain on track for vaccine delivery once it is approved for use in Australia by the independent regulator," he said in a statement on Wednesday night.
MEDIA STATEMENT: Pfizer Vaccine emergency approval in the UK pic.twitter.com/1HxddjsBQ0— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) December 2, 2020