The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country in the western world to authorize a vaccine against COVID-19, at the same time paving the way for a massive and unprecedented immunization campaign.
From next week, 800,000 doses of the vaccine against the coronavirus of the American-German tandem Pifzer / BioNTech, reputed to be 95% effective, are expected on British soil, thanks to an emergency authorization.
Up to 10 million doses could be delivered before the end of the year.
The most bereaved country in Europe, the United Kingdom is ahead of the United States, where the vaccine has been co-developed, and the European Union. These two entities are due to vote later this month on this product.
The British government, which has bought 40 million doses in all, intends to give priority to vaccinating residents of long-term care centers, workers at their bedside and people aged 80 and over.
This announcement also highlights the logistical challenges posed by the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which must be stored at -70 ° C, and which requires two doses, 21 days apart.
We anticipate that it will be more complicated to deliver it to retirement homes and it is therefore in about fifty hospitals, where the infrastructure is more suitable, that it will probably be offered first.
From “hope” to “certainty”
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, estimated that the will to find a more normal life no longer rests on a “hope”, but on a “certainty”.
But it will take time to immunize enough people, and compliance with health guidelines is imperative by then, he insisted.
“The scientists did it!” Mr Johnson said triumphantly.
For the very first time, a regulatory body has approved a vaccine to fight the pandemic, which is “major”, according to Nathalie Grandvaux, a researcher at the CHUM in Montreal, specializing in host-virus interactions.
“External, completely independent people who are there for the safety of the public have looked at the data and approved it,” she says.
This is new “history”, because the vaccine was developed in record time and is based on a new technology, Messenger RNA, which has the potential to “revolutionize” the field of vaccination, ‘after her.
We can assume that other countries will follow suit with the British, including Canada, which has reserved millions of doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, because “we are not very different from each other”, analyzes Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, microbiologist-infectious disease specialist.
The vaccination priorities set by the British are also very similar to those being considered here, she says.
“Once the most vulnerable are vaccinated, it will give us, I would say, a buffer zone where there should be fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths and quietly, we will be able to open up society, but we will not be able to abandon all preventive measures straight away, ”she said.
Vaccination priorities in the UK
- Residents of nursing homes for the aged and the health care workers who care for them
- People from 80 years and over and frontline health workers
- People from 75 years and over
- People from 70 years and over and people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable
- People from 65 and over
- Individuals of 16 to 64 with underlying health problems with a higher risk of serious illness
- People from 60 years and over
- People from 55 and over
- People from 50 years and over
Source: Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, an expert advisory committee in the UK. This list details the priorities for the first phase of vaccination, but other phases will follow.