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The United Kingdom has beaten America to the approval step in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, issued their approval on Wednesday, clearing the path for the vaccines use to start in Europe.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care told Medscape.com the following:

"The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use"

The MHRA says that the Pfizer vaccine is safe, and also up to 95% effective. The UK has already ordered enough doses from Pfizer to vaccinate 20 million people. With more doses expected quickly.

However the United States still lags behind in their approval process. Pfizer filed with the United States Food and Drug Administration back on November 20th, however the FDA almost immediately indicated that they would take nearly a month before even meeting about their vaccine. A decision that is now being questioned by other sections of the US Government.

The decision from the FDA to wait nearly a month to begin discussions on the Pfizer vaccine puts a massive delay on the rollout. But it hasn't stopped state and local officials from preparing for the vaccine's arrival. Ochsner Health Vice President of Pharmacy, Dr. Debbie Simonson, told WDSU this week that she would be "ready today" if the vaccine was sent out.

In Arkansas, Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero told the state's Legislative Committee this week that the state should be vaccinating residents within the next two weeks. Romero repeatedly told the legislators that the Pfizer vaccine (as well as the others from Moderna and AstraZeneca among other companies) is not only extremely effective, but has been shown to be extremely safe.

 

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