The Nine

U.K. becomes first country to approve COVID-19 vaccine

The United Kingdom on Wednesday authorized use of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first Western country to allow widespread use of a vaccine.

Pfizer responded to the approval by announcing they would immediately begin shipping limited supplies to the UK. It also expects to get similar recognition from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the inoculation provides 95 percent protection against the COVID-19 virus, making it both safe and effective, according to the BBC.

The country expects to start immunization of high priority groups in a matter of days. The UK ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, with 10 million doses expected soon.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called the U.K. decision “a historic moment.”

“We are focusing on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world,” Bourla said in a statement.

The first vaccine approval for mass use comes as more than 59,000 people have died in Britain from the virus and more than 1.4 million people have perished from the disease worldwide.

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