A coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been approved for use by regulators in the United Kingdom.
"It's fantastic," U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "It's the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again."
Pfizer's vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections.
The U.K. has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people. The country said it will receive an initial 800,000 doses within the next week and will start administering it immediately. Rolling out the vaccine will be difficult because it must be stored at sub-zero temperatures using specialized dry-ice freezers, which many doctors and hospitals do not have.
Healthcare and frontline workers, elderly patients in long-term care facilities, and other vulnerable people will be the first to receive the vaccine.
Pfizer has submitted its vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization in the United States. Officials from the agency are scheduled to meet next week and the week after to discuss approving Pfizer's vaccine, along with another one developed by Moderna. Health officials in the European Union are not expected to approve either vaccine for another few weeks.
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