Britain formally asked its Regulatory Agency for Medicines and Healthcare Products (MHRA) to review the COVID-19 vaccine co-produced on Friday by Pfizer Health Minister Matt Hancock.
The announcement follows news that Pfizer said it would apply its vaccine to U.S. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) health authorities, the first such application and a significant move towards offering protection against the current coronavirus.
“The first step in authorising a vaccine here in the UK is for the government to formally ask the independent regulator…, the MHRA, to evaluate its suitability,” Hancock told.
“I can confirm that the government has formally asked the MHRA to evaluate the suitability of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for authorisation.”
Hancock said Pfizer BioNTech has already begun providing the medical regulator with details and will send more in the coming days.
“In tackling this pandemic, this is another important step forward,” he said. “If a vaccine is approved, our NHS (National Health Service) will of course, be available throughout the UK, free at the point of delivery, depending on the need, not the ability to pay.”
Health officials emphasised the independence and high respect of the MHRA. Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of England, said the MHRA will work “at the speed of science.”
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