London / Brussels (dpa) – Following news of the rapid approval of Biontech and Pfizer’s corona vaccine in Britain, public acceptance concerns are growing.
The government’s deputy chief medical adviser for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, tried on the BBC on Wednesday to dispel doubts about the drug’s safety. He himself strongly recommended that his 78-year-old mother get vaccinated. He was “very confident” of the UK Medicines Agency’s assessment of MHRA.
On Wednesday, the authority had granted Mainz-based pharmaceutical company Biontech and its US partner Pfizer emergency approval for their corona vaccine. The UK is the first country to ever issue an approval certificate for the vaccine. British experts assure the investigation was extraordinarily thorough.
The UK government hopes that the vaccinations will drastically reduce the number of corona infected. The first phase of the immunization program is scheduled to start next week and will primarily target the elderly and debilitated people, as well as residents of nursing homes. It is the largest mass vaccination in Britain’s history.
“We could theoretically eliminate 99 percent of hospitalizations and deaths associated with Covid-19,” said Van-Tam. The condition is that the vaccination is widely accepted by the population. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to answer questions and concerns of the population in a Facebook question hour on Thursday. A study shortly before the vaccine was approved found that nearly 70 percent of Britons would be willing to get a vaccine.
Van-Tam also warned of euphoria and carelessness in dealing with the pandemic. “We need to make people understand that this is not an immediate way out,” the scientist said. There are still a number of tough winter months ahead. People should follow the distance rules – regardless of whether they received a vaccination or not.
The first doses of the vaccine should arrive in Britain on Thursday. Earlier, the government had admitted that administration in nursing homes should be delayed. The vaccinations will initially be administered in 50 clinics around the country, says Simon Stevens of the NHS (National Health Service). Doctor’s offices will be added later. Initially, only units with 975 cans were available due to complicated storage at minus 70 degrees. Once a way has been found to safely divide the vaccination doses into smaller units, the vaccination in nursing homes can begin.
The government, which has been heavily criticized for dealing with the pandemic, celebrated the approval as a success. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on the radio that the UK could be the first country to approve the vaccine because it “appears to have the best drug agency.” This is “much better” than that of France, Belgium or the US. “That doesn’t surprise me at all, because we are a much better country than any of them, aren’t we?”
A spokesman for the European Commission made it clear regarding these statements that the fight against the pandemic is “not a football competition”. “We’re talking about people’s lives and health.” There is a highly developed system for the authorization of medicines in the EU, which also applies to the United Kingdom. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) had emphasized that Germany had deliberately waived an emergency permit in order to be able to investigate more thoroughly.