Hospitals in England prepare for COVID vaccine rollout in 10 days' time

NHS could receive first deliveries of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as 7 December

Hospitals in England have been told to prepare for the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine in as soon as 10 days, it has been reported, with NHS staff first in line to receive it.

According to The Guardian, hospitals could receive the first deliveries of the vaccine created by Pfizer/BioNTech between December 7 and December 9, with the newspaper citing sources at several hospitals across the country. This timeframe, however, will depend on if and when the vaccine is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  The MHRA confirmed on Monday it had received the necessary data to progress its review into whether the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine meets the required standards.

The Guardian also reported the Pfizer vaccine will be given only to NHS staff first, with care home residents and the over-80s having to wait. This is despite those two groups being classed by the government as top priorities for Covid immunisation, as they have the greatest risk of death from the disease.

The reason is that the Pfizer vaccine, which reportedly has 95% еfficacy, needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures. Due to this factor it should be moved only a limited number of times, experts believe, and as such it cannot easily be transported by healthcare staff such as GPs to care homes and older people’s private residences.

NHS officials believe that if it is moved more than four times it risks becoming unstable and ineffective. By the time it reaches UK hospitals, it will have been moved twice, from the Pfizer production plant in Belgium to storage hubs in Britain, and from those hubs to hospitals where it can be administered.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab and expects 10 million doses by the end of the year. The UK has also ordered 100 million doses of a vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which does not need to be kept at such low temperatures. The Oxford vaccine has also been sent to the MHRA for approval.

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