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Instant View: Britain approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, rollout to begin next week

12/02/2020 | 10:32am EST

(Reuters) - Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and said it will be rolled out from early next week.

Here are some reactions to the news:

ITALY HEALTH MINISTER ROBERTO SPERANZA (SPEAKING IN PARLIAMENT)

"At the moment the EMA has not issued any formal approval... I am still speaking with caution because we demand that EMA carries out all the controls keeping the bar on surveillance very high, because when the vaccine will be administered to people it will certainly have to be a safe vaccine but it will have to be an effective vaccine.

YAZDAN YAZDANPANAH, HEAD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT PARIS' BICHAT HOSPITAL, MEMBER OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT'S SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL.

"This is not a 100-meter dash. It's not because they'll start next week that they'll do better than others. I think we should take the time to look at all the data. It's also important to show everybody -- considering the hesitations (in the public) -- that we're doing that seriously."

JOHN TREGONING, A READER IN RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON:

"This is great news and remarkable progress given the first cases were less than a year ago. It shows what progress can be made through science and innovation. The MHRA, the UK drug regulator, will have gone through all the safety data from the trials before approving and will continue to monitor as it is rolled out more widely. The next step will be to get the vaccine to the people who need it the most."

PROFESSOR ARNE AKBAR, PRESIDENT OF THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR IMMUNOLOGY:

"It is only 12 months since the first case recorded case of COVID-19 and in that time, researchers around the world have worked tirelessly to increase our understanding of this new disease and develop safe and effective vaccines."

"To achieve this within this timescale is remarkable and the researchers should be applauded. Although development of this vaccine has occurred rapidly, it's important to emphasise that it will still have gone through all the rigorous safety tests, and validity of the data on effectiveness will have been assessed meticulously by the MHRA."

PETER LIESE, AN EU LAWMAKER WHO IS A MEMBER OF GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL'S PARTY:

"I consider this decision to be problematic and recommend that EU Member States do not repeat the process in the same way. A few weeks of thorough examination by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is better than a hasty emergency marketing authorisation of a vaccine."

AYFER ALI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL WHO SPECIALISES IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY:

"The approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a landmark moment in the UK's response to the pandemic. However, if we need to vaccinate the whole population, or at least a large portion of it, we need all the vaccines we can get."

"Other vaccines, which have not yet been approved, may have better profiles in terms of protecting different populations, such as the elderly. They may also be easier to administer logistically because they need fewer shots or are easier to store and transport."

"Competition is also good in achieving a better price, especially for lower income countries faced with vaccinated large populations."

MICHAEL HEAD, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW IN GLOBAL HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON:

"This is excellent news and a huge landmark in the global efforts to address this pandemic. The regulators have clearly been satisfied with the data presented to them."

"The Pfizer vaccine does require storage at around -70C, which will pose significant logistical challenges for all countries that choose to use it. These are not insurmountable but certainly challenging."

"Other vaccines, such as the Oxford AstraZeneca candidate, require storage at much lesser temperatures and will be simpler to transport. Given we will certainly need more than one licensed vaccine to maximise global coverage, everyone will still be eagerly waiting for further developments from Oxford and Moderna."

LIAM SMEETH, PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL EPIDEMIOLOGY, AND DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND POPULATION HEALTH, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE:

"The continued progress on vaccines is fantastic news. A route towards a much better situation in the UK is becoming clear. A further circuit breaker in January or possibly February is likely to be needed. But, it is realistic to hope that by March or April the vast majority of older people, care home residents, and those with severe conditions will have been immunised."

"We can then work towards wider immunisation - with ideally much of the population covered in time for next winter. Life won't ever be the same as it was before Covid-19, but it will feel a whole lot better than now."

"For the foreseeable future - and maybe forever - we are very unlikely to reach the situation we are in with smallpox (gone), polio (almost gone), or measles (controlled in populations with high enough vaccine coverage). Instead, we are going to need to find ways to fairly happily live alongside this virus."

ANDREW HILL, SENIOR VISITING RESEARCH FELLOW IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PHARMACOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL

"With 450 people dying of COVID-19 infection every day in the UK, the benefits of rapid vaccine approval outweigh the potential risks. However, we need new independent clinical trials to monitor long-term safety and efficacy."

FRENCH PRIME MINISTER JEAN CASTEX told BFM TV that a European decision was expected towards the end of December.

"From what I know, it's due in the days ahead, more likely towards the end of December than the beginning."

"I will never take the risk of vaccinating people without the having approval to put (the vaccine) on the market by the competent authorities."

JAMES ATHEY, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR AT ABERDEEN STANDARD INVESTMENTS:

"Incoming news surrounding the development and distribution of COVID vaccinations continues to be unequivocally positive, and subsequently, is being cheered and welcomed by financial markets that are desperate for good news."

"This morning's announcement that vaccination in the UK could begin as early as next week saw further gains for sterling following yesterday's strong performance following the Times Radio report that Brexit negotiations have entered the final and crucial stage. However, these gains have been stopped in their tracks by a subsequent headline suggesting that EU negotiator Michel Barnier has told EU ambassadors that there may not be a Brexit deal after all."

SYLVAIN GOYON, HEAD OF EQUITY STRATEGY AT ODDO BHF IN PARIS:

"Stock market reactions following the Pfizer and Moderna announcements already reflect bets of a rapid normalization. To this extent the UK registration is somewhat already priced in"

MIKE BELL, GLOBAL MARKET STRATEGIST AT J.P. MORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT:

"Approval of a highly effective vaccine may mark the beginning of the end to the Covid-19 economic turmoil and the beginning of a new bull market for equities."

"The scientists have come to the rescue and delivered what investors were hoping for Christmas this year. As this year's savings are spent next year, the global economy should boom driving corporate profits and equities higher in 2021."

DANNY ALTMANN, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOLOGY AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON:

"Exciting news keeps coming, but this really is momentous. Nobody knew how the battle to find effective vaccines would pan out. Now, less than 11 months from the first characterisation of the virus sequence, we have the first emergency approval for use of a really effective vaccine. Truly heroic."

"I don't think we should get too hung up on 'the race' and this as the 1st approval. Over the next several weeks we'll likely see a number of licenses granted - and we do need them all to get speedily out of this mess."

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Richard Lough, Nick Tattersall, Julien Ponthus, Marc Jones and Kate Kelland; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Kirsten Donovan)


© Reuters 2020
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