The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use. British regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe for roll out next week. The UK has already ordered 40m doses which would be enough to vaccinate 20m people, with two shots each.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted saying: ''Help is on its way. The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.''
Although vaccination can start, people still need to follow coronavirus rules to stop the spread, say experts.
This vaccine is a new type called an mRNA vaccine that uses a tiny fragment of genetic code from the pandemic virus to teach the body how to fight Covid-19 and build immunity.
The scientists take a part of the virus' genetic code or RNA, that tells cells what to build, and coat them in a lipid so they can enter the body's cells. After the vaccine is injected into a patient, it enters the cells and tells them to produce coronavirus spike protein. This prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and activates T-cells to destroy infected cells. If the patient encounters coronavirus, the antibodies and T-cells are triggered to fight the virus. The vaccine must be stored at around -70C and will be transported in special boxes, packed in dry ice. Once delivered, it can be kept for up to five days in a fridge.
The front line health workers would be the first one's to receive the vaccination followed by people over 80. Mass immunization for people over the age of 50 and young people with underlying health conditions will be done when more stock is available by the hear 2021.
The vaccine has two doses and is to be taken 21 days apart.