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BSI response to approval of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine use in UK

2 December 2020

Today, the UK Government announced that they have accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use. In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.

Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“This is a momentous day for us all.  COVID-19 has impacted all our lives in so many ways and hope of an exit strategy has relied on a safe and effective vaccine.  Today that hope has been realised with the announcement that the UK Government has accepted the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) recommendation to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use. 

“It is only 12 months since the first recorded case of COVID-19 and in that time, researchers around the world have worked tirelessly to increase our understanding of this new disease and develop safe and effective vaccines.  To achieve this within this timescale is remarkable and the researchers should be applauded. Although development of this vaccine has occurred rapidly, it’s important to emphasise that it will still have gone through all the rigorous safety tests, and validity of the data on effectiveness will have been assessed meticulously by the MHRA. Although the full dataset has yet to be made public, the previously reported efficacy of above 90% gives us great optimism that this vaccine will be an important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.

“However this announcement is not the end of the story and there is still much work to do. Roll out of the vaccine is going to be a logistical challenge and rely on our dedicated healthcare professionals around the country.  Additionally, building public confidence in the vaccine is going to be crucial in ensuring the high uptake needed to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 within our communities. It is essential that we have high profile and multifaceted engagement campaigns that listen and respond to the public’s questions around the vaccine.”