Now that Britain has become the first western country to approve a Covid-19 shot, the spotlight shifts to the high-stakes rollout. Vaccinating the country’s roughly 67 million people won’t happen overnight. The UK has ordered enough doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to immunise 20 million people.
Who will get the vaccine first?
The government plans to prioritise as it begins to deploy the vaccine, starting with residents and staff in care homes, then moving to people over 80 years old and health-care workers, documents show.
Britain will immunise people throughout the wider population next, based on age and risk. The shot is expected to be available from next week.
Where will people get it?
In the UK, 50 hospitals are ready to administer the vaccine, followed by doctors and pharmacists, assuming they have the facilities needed to store the doses, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sky News. The country has moved to expand the pool of people who can give the jabs beyond the National Health Service to other health professionals. “This is no different from any other vaccine,” Sean Marett, who handles distribution for BioNTech, said at a briefing. “You go to your center, you roll up your sleeve, and you receive in your arm a vaccination.”
Where is the vaccine at the moment?
The vaccine is still at Pfizer’s production site in Puurs, Belgium. The doses will be shipped to the UK by truck or plane and become available there next week.
Can I get more than one shot?
Not for now. The UK only cleared the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, although a product using a similar technology from Moderna may also get approved soon. It may become possible to mix shots when other vaccines are approved. That should work for shots that target the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, according to Andrew Pollard, who is leading the University of Oxford’s vaccine trial with AstraZeneca The three front-runners use the spike protein as a target, as do many others in clinical tests.
How does the approved vaccine compare with others?
The product relies on a technology called messenger RNA, which has never been used to make approved vaccines before. So does Moderna’s. Both showed they were more than 90 per cent effective in clinical trials. The main difference is that the Pfizer-BioNTech product must be stored ultra-cold until a few days before it is used. Moderna’s vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days.