Early last week saw the news we have all been waiting for, with a coronavirus vaccine receiving clinical approval to be used in the UK.
The Government has accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use.
The Department of Health & Social Care have confirmed that the UK was the first country to pre-order supplies of this vaccine, with 800,000 doses being made available this week and 40 million doses ordered overall.
The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply. In March, the Prime Minister announced £210 million of new UK aid funding to help find a vaccine for coronavirus.
The support of British taxpayers is helping scientists and researchers to lead global efforts to develop vaccines, including at the University of Oxford.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has spoken about how he started working on getting vaccines and ensuring vaccine preparedness in March. The UK’s position is a result of much work which goes on behind the scenes and I wish to thank all involved in this complex process.
The Government has secured access to over 350 million vaccine doses through agreements with seven separate vaccine developers. As well as the 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, this also includes 100 million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, 60 million doses of the GSK/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine and 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine.
A nationwide NHS-led programme of vaccine distribution will be prepared. Our health service has great experience in delivering vaccination programmes and I know that NHS staff will step up once again.
There will also be a crucial role for our GPs in the rollout, and they have been backed with £150 million to prepare. Work continues to ensure provision, transport, PPE and logistical expertise.
I have been asked by a number of Crawley residents if I would be happy to have this vaccine – the answer is yes. I look forward to having the vaccine as soon as I am eligible to do so.
I want to be able to see family members safely again, without the threat of passing on or picking up a deadly disease. A vaccine will help more of us return to those things we perhaps took for granted like enjoying a show or watching a sporting event live. Even something like a trip to the pub with friends will be easier when the vaccine programme is well underway.
Henry Smith MP