Paving the way for mass vaccinations from as early as next week, UK on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed 1,487,701 people across the globe and has infected over 64 million.
The announcement was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering “large-scale” vaccinations in the country with the Sputnik V. The vaccine has been touted in Russia as the world’s “first registered COVID-19 vaccine” after it received regulatory approval in early August. However, the move drew considerable criticism from experts, because at the time the shots had only been tested on several dozen people.
Here are updates on both vaccines
In Britain, public health officials plan to offer the vaccine first to those who are most at risk of dying from the disease and those whose jobs put them at risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to others. The vaccination program will be expanded to others as supplies become available. The UK is expected to receive a total of 40 million doses by the end of 2021, enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses anticipated in the first half of next year.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK will begin receiving the first shipment of 800000 doses of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine within days and people will start getting the shots as soon as it arrives Two doses three weeks apart are required for protection.
The British regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), says the jab, which claims to offer up to 95 per cent protection against COVID-19 illness, is safe for roll out. The joint vaccine, produced by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech, had recently claimed trials suggested it works well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities.
Russia’s Sputnik V
Putin has said more than 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use within the next few days. The Sputnik V vaccine candidate has demonstrated “high efficacy” in interim data, reducing by 92 per cent the possibility that those inoculated would be clinically diagnosed with symptomatic Covid-19, Russian authorities have said.
Sputnik V is a human adenovirus vaccine that uses two weakened and genetically modified common cold viruses to carry the code for the cells in the human body to build the Covid-19 spike protein (the spiky outer layer of the SARS-CoV-2 virus). The body’s immune system is expected to recognise this spike protein as a threat and develop an immune response to attack it, so that the real Covid-19 virus would not be able to cause harm when it tries to attack.
Putin announced the registration of Sputnik V in August as the world’s first vaccination against Covid-19, and a second inoculation was approved in October, even as Phase 3 trials to establish safety and efficacy are still taking place. Since then, officials have said “mass” vaccination would start soon even as some manufacturers expressed concerns about production constraints.
“This gives us the opportunity to start if not mass, but large-scale vaccination, of course, as we agreed, of the two risk groups – doctors and teachers,” Putin told government officials. He tasked Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova to “organize the work in such a way so that large-scale vaccination starts by the end of next week.”
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