Britain Becomes 1st Nation to Approve New COVID-19 Vaccine Developed by Pfizer and BioNTech
Britain has given emergency approval to a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, becoming the world’s first western nation ready to begin mass inoculations against a disease that has sickened nearly 64 million people worldwide, including more than 1.4 million deaths.The government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority granted approval Wednesday for the vaccine, which Pfizer developed along with Germany’s BioNTech. The first vaccinations will begin next week, with staffers of the Britain’s National Health Service, nursing home residents and staffers expected to receive first priority.The approval comes weeks after Pfizer announced the vaccine had been shown to be over 90% effective after its final, widespread clinical trials. Britain has already pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers process people waiting in line at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site in Houston.The Trump administration has said that 20 million people could be inoculated by the end of this year.As it has for months, the United States continues to lead the world in coronavirus infections, with nearly 13.7 million cases and more than 270,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. [[ COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (jhu.edu) ]] The U.S. has 98,691 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, making it the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic reached the nation’s shores.Since it began nearly a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people who are experiencing extreme poverty, according to the United Nations.The world body said in its annual humanitarian report that 235 million people, or one in 33 people, will require basic needs like food, water and sanitation in 2021, a 40% increase from this year.The U.N. report said the greatest need for humanitarian assistance next year is in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.The United Nations contributed a record $17 billion in 2020 for humanitarian response worldwide, the report said.