The United Kingdom has become the first western country to approve the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. (PFE), sending the shares of the U.S-based pharmaceutical company up more than 4 percent in the premarket trading Wednesday.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of Britain took just 23 days to grant emergency use authorization to the vaccine, which achieved more than 95 percent efficacy in the late-stage trials.
Britain’s government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced heavy criticism in the past over handling the pandemic situation. However, the latest announcement has made Britain the first western country to approve the Covid-19 vaccine. The government is expected to receive the first lot of the vaccine as early as next week. It intends to use the first shots on people who need it the most.
Meanwhile, the drugs regulator at the European Union criticized the latest move from the U.K. The criticism mainly focused on the rapid evaluation done by the government. The regulators said it usually takes longer to approve a vaccine as several checks need to be done before making a final decision.
In response, MHRA chief June Raine said in a statement that no corners were cut in the approval process. She added that they received the first data on the vaccine in June and carried out a thorough analysis in line with the international standards.
Who will receive the first shots in U.K.?
Senior government officials said they will give priority to those at most risk such as the aged people and health workers. Pfizer’s
The U.K. government has inked a deal for 40 million doses of vaccine mutually developed by Pfizer
Approval status in the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to meet on December 10 to make a decision regarding emergency approval of Pfizer’s vaccine.
On the other hand, rival Moderna also recently submitted an application to the FDA for emergency approval of its vaccine, which achieved 94 percent efficacy in the late-stage trials. Moreover, AstraZeneca said its vaccine is up to 90 percent effective in preventing the Covid-19.
Upcoming challenges for Pfizer
Governments around the world will grant the emergency use approval to Pfizer’s vaccine as thousands of people are losing their lives on daily basis. However, nobody knows how long the vaccine will stay effective. The reason is that drug regulatory bodies usually grant the approval to any vaccine if they protect people at least for a year or so. But in case of Pfizer
Moreover, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at an ultra-cold temperature of -70° C for both storage and shipment purposes. Therefore, it will need to spend a huge amount on the storage and delivery operations, as freezers required for maintaining such temperature are not cheap.
Overall, 17 analysts have issued a price target for Pfizer
Pfizer stock performance