Vaccine rollout starts

Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, has welcomed the rollout of coronavirus vaccine, a momentous occasion on the way to beat the pandemic.

Today (8 December 2020) the UK has become the first country in the world to start administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The rollout of this vaccine is the largest vaccination program to date and forms a vital part of the Government’s work in making coronavirus a manageable disease and allowing us to return to normality in the future.

The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with an initial 800,000 available from today. The NHS will be offering the Covid-19 vaccine at 50 hospitals and hubs across the UK, including the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

More hospitals will start vaccinating over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up. At this time, the vaccine is being offered to the most vulnerable people including those over 80, healthcare workers and care home residents.

As the vaccine must be stored at a temperature of around -70C, the doses are not readily portable at the moment. However, Dr June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said that her staff had approved a method for splitting up the 975-dose shipments into smaller batches to be taken into homes. A programme is in place to distribute the vaccine into care homes and other locations as soon as possible.

The MHRA set up an independent expert working group, including 48 experts from outside of the Agency – virologists, toxicologists, epidemiologists and immunologists to ensure that the highest standards of scrutiny, of safety and of effectiveness and quality have been met.

Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip are expected to receive the Covid-19 vaccine within weeks.

Nus Ghani said: “The start of this vaccination programme is a momentous occasion that provides fresh hope that we can soon reclaim our lives and get our economy moving again. I will continue to work hard with the Department of Health to ensure that Wealden’s elderly residents who struggle with mobility can access the vaccine. I can assure you without reservation that the vaccine has been subjected to the highest international standards of scrutiny and it is safe and effective. It gives us the best protection against coronavirus, and it is a tremendous achievement on our way to recovery from this pandemic.”