UK- First to Approve Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2

It has been nearly a year since COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has spread to 191 countries infecting over 64.5 million people. On 2nd December 2020, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), UK approved the Pfizer vaccine, BNT162b1. The UK announced its plan to commence targeted vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers, nursing home patients, and those with underlying health conditions as early as December 12. The vaccine has yielded an efficacy of 95%. The BNT162b1 vaccine is part of a new class of mRNA vaccine that injects a part of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material within a surrogate lipid envelope.

The mRNA contains the message for building the spike protein. The vaccine stimulates the host’s immune system to produce neutralizing antibodies that target the spike protein antigen. While this news comes as a relief to many, mass immunization is a challenge. This vaccine requires two jabs, within 21 days of each other and also needs to be stored at -70degC before being administered. Resistance from members of the public skeptical about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine is also a challenge. Whether or not this marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic will depend on the population compliance and the efficacy of the vaccine. 

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