Health News

What's next for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine after UK rollout

(Reuters) - Britain began the mass-vaccination of its population against COVID-19 on Tuesday, becoming the first Western nation to do so in a global endeavour that poses one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history.

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen ahead of being administered at the Royal Victoria Hospital, on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in the British history, in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 8, 2020. Liam McBurney/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from Britain, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine outside of a trial following its rapid clinical approval on Dec. 2.

Pfizer said in November final results from the late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine showed it was 95% effective.

Below are the main details of the vaccine, progress on supply deals and potential approvals:


- The vaccine, called BNT162b2, is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which uses a chemical messenger to instruct cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the new coronavirus, thereby creating immunity.

- mRNA relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines.

- The new technology has not been approved for any other vaccines so far; Pfizer and BioNTech have already collaborated to develop influenza vaccines based on mRNA.

- The vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below


- Based on the supply deal with the United States, the price tag amounts to $39 for what is likely to be a two-dose course.

- Pfizer has said it will not charge other developed countries a lower price for the vaccine than what the United States will pay.


- BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin has said he is optimistic the immunization effect of the vaccine would last for a year. Scientists do not know how long the effect will last.


- India is accelerating its review of Pfizer’s vaccine to for emergency use, a senior official said on Dec.7.

- Canadian health authorities could approve the vaccine within the next week, medical officials indicated on Dec. 3.

- The European Medicines Agency said on Dec. 1 that if its experts have received enough data from Pfizer about the vaccine, the agency will complete its reviews by Dec. 29.

- Pfizer and BioNTech submitted approval requests for their vaccine candidates to the European drugs regulator on Dec. 1.

- U.S. FDA granted the vaccine a ‘fast track’ status in mid-July, and is expected to give more indications of its use this week.

- Pfizer signed a deal worth up to $750 million with BioNTech in March to co-develop the potential vaccine, and it ran clinical trials in April.

- Testing of the vaccine began in the United States in May after trials started in Germany the previous month.


- Trials are continuing globally in 154 locations, including in Germany, Japan, Brazil and in several locations within the United States in participants aged 12 years and older. The global Phase I/II/III trials enrolled about 44,000 volunteers. (

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Vishwadha Chander and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Aurora Ellis; Shounak Dasgupta and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty