Covid-19 vaccine: First person receives Pfizer jab in UK

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Well. Biontech and pfizer's landmark coronavirus vaccine has been given to the first person in the uk as part of a mass immunization program. The uk's vaccine roll it is being watched keenly across the rest of the world has other countries begin. Prepare to vaccinate their own populations for the latest on this. Let's talk to our health and science correspondent. Dr chris smith. Chris is also consultant for all the gist at cambridge university. I good afternoon. Chris tyler so i guess So far so good at least we have. We have a soundbite already. We had at the top of the program from this ninety year old woman. Who's been there the first to be to vaccinated chris last week. We saw a little bit of Chest thumping on the part of some politicians the uk saying look. This is great The uk is steaming ahead. How eagerly he would you say not. Just the immediate neighbors across this side of the channel but around the world are going to be watching. What are they going to watching. Forty you think over the coming days and weeks as this rolls out well think it will be a confidence boost to those other countries because no one likes to be i they unless it's a shorty. A dead cert. There's always some risk with any kind of intervention. And this is no different. So having a regulator a regulator that's world renowned the jewelry the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency. Which is the. Uk's regulator which prior to just having jurisdiction over the uk walls prior to the brexit transition kicking providing that service for the whole of europe. Now europe does that through the ama it. It gives a precedent that other countries can look to and say right. Okay one fairly ferry. Big actor has gone ahead with this nathan. It's good therefore we're happy to Gives us some confidence too. So i think that there's always that aspect to it and it's coming good for the uk in the sense that it saying here we are. We've had a pretty rough time with this. But now some some fantastic triumph of sciences kicked in and we're about to start deploying this across the country and we're gonna we're gonna protect our outpatients. We have this type of approval from a respected Player how much do agencies elsewhere of course within the eu and obviously similar bodies all over the world. how much does it short circuit For them as you said. It establishes a precedent And does that mean that you have you know days or weeks then knocked off the process. Of course he. I'm sitting here in switzerland. Obviously a lot of talk as well about of course is also on the uk as well so does it actually then really prevent And and and and you do you have a moment where you have a real series of time locked off. They'd process well. The europeans are considering this through the jurisdiction of the ems the european medicines agency but the uk is still subject to a you know and in the uk is used one particular rule which is a regulation one seven four which is a specification for in public health crisis. Or emergency you can. Emergency approved something for use in your particular jurisdiction so the nhra has used that to approve this for the uk. Any other country in europe could've done the same thing so it's quite interesting that they've actually decided to white on a broad overarching decision from the a. But it doesn't matter. Who your regulator is they have to meet the same checks and balances. Because at the end of the day they all the gateway between a manufactured product and the public who going to receive it and it's on their neck that the decision rests so then going to say a will. They did it so we'll kind of ignore with this stuff would just sign it off. They are going to apply wherever they are in the world the same rigorous checks that they would apply whether or not someone else regulated something but it does help to give them confidence and he gives them a bit more political impetus when they see that. Another major regulator has taken a product which is also going to be wheeled out in that particular country and said well you know what's good enough is enough the ganda over the past few weeks. Of course astrazeneca moderna in this case. Biontech visor they. They've all been popping up in the headlines. Chris and of course various speeds that of course these approval processes have been working at now. We have three vaccines. We're we're now told her that there might also now be a fourth which is very much in play might be getting closer to approval. How different are all of these in terms of effectiveness and and do they all function largely the same way or do you. Also because obviously many countries that are hedging their purchasing all of them. Am i going to be particularly concerned. In a couple of weeks. If if i choose to get the moderna vaccine versus the astrazeneca versus the by pfizer one. In fact i think the uk has go options in on seven different vaccines and yes. You're right three of them are nearing the finishing nine in the uk but there are many others waiting in the wings around the world. There are ten different types of vaccine the work in ten different types of ways or being generated a more than forty and now in advanced stages of clinical trials. So pretty soon. We're going to have more vaccines than we can shake a stick at up to a point. That's a good thing and it's a good thing because not vaccines are going to be suitable for all people not vaccines are going to be available to all people not vaccines are going to work in all territories and what i mean by. That is if we take the fiso vaccine as an example. This needs to be kept at minus seventy degrees until five days or so before you're going to use all nine hundred and seventy five doses that are in batch and i've just seen a letter go from medical director saying can we make sure that we we use all nine hundred seventy five days in a within the five days so that we don't waste any of this very precious vaccine. Now that's going to be no use whatsoever in some countries where they don't even have a stable. Electricity supply let alone a stable minus eighty degrees freezer. So therefore having lots of options is a powerful thing also We don't know what the long term outcomes with these vaccines against be. We know that they provide pretty high level of protection but short after the vaccination program is finished in other words in in the weeks to a month or so. The person's completed the vaccine course. They're protected with the fis vaccine to the level of about nine hundred ninety five percent. But what happens in five months. What happens in a year. we don't know. And it may well be that other products that come along are able to confer a longer term protection. They might confer a big boost if you give one of those on top of one of the other products. This is a learning process. We're going to be sort of going through this process as time goes on an. It's always good to have more options. Where this sort of things concerned. If if your project yourselves twelve months twenty four months out do you think we also end up in a place because of because of cost because of stability many other things that they're only going to be potentially to vaccines. Is that the way things often go. The other ones might be effective but they might be too expensive as you said they might be too volatile and they fall by the wayside. I so i guess what i'm getting at. Will there sort of a clear winner in all of this in terms of one of the players and obviously the concoction that that ends up within the syringe. Well it's hard to say. I mean you know it's like niels bohr. Who is the forefather of quantum mechanics. Said prediction is very difficult especially when it concerns the future. But it's it's going to be very hard to know because we don't know what the long term outcome with these agencies. They are expensive. These genetic vaccines that pfizer. Madonna offering all pricey the astra zeneca vaccine. Which is still sitting with the regulator here in the uk. At the moment that one will be much cheaper and is also much easier to deploy and store so that there are pros and cons of all these things and it may not come down to simply a case if this one does this and this one does this therefore two horse race. I think we will definitely be a market for a few of these products whether or not. That market's going to be sufficient to sustain all forty plus of the clinical trials that are going on now but but certainly while the world is rushing to get this stuff in sufficient volume. Because that's the issue at the moment the companies just can't push it out the door fast enough the moment it's any partner storm so people are desperate to access whatever vaccine they can as fast as they can and just before we go chris any sense. When you're maybe discussing with your medica- medical call leaks. What the uptake is is going to be. I was talking to a doctor at the university hospital here in zurich the other day his defense was that you know probably just within the hospital owned probably fifty percent of the staff. You know would not be interested in taking the vaccine. Is that sort of a a pretty good gauge. In terms of how the public will look at this. Or if you're not in the medical trenches all day maybe you're going to be keener to take it any any house view from your side. I'm sensing quite a degree of what we dub vaccine hesitancy based on the questions that are coming into various radio programs on participating in basic enquiries from members of the general public and if you look at the day to this come out of the pew research center in america have been running a number of population surveys in the states and originally that was very alarming showed that fifty percent of people would reject a vaccine offered one at that point in time. They recently repeated that survey found that in fact the uptake had risen to fifty from fifty to sixty percents so in other words forty percent. Turn it down. But that's still forty percent. Turn down right now in the uk. We think it's probably going to be Less than that but at the same time still a significant proportion of people are uncertain citing rapid production very rapid approval. As a reason for concern. I do think this is largely going to take care of itself though because what will happen is that because of the way in which these vaccines are being rolled out to high priority high risk groups. I with a trickle down into the younger echo lonzo society over time by the time many of the people who live in countering who is saying. I'm nervous about this. Come to be offered a vaccine. It will have actually been through a very significant proportion of other people and that may well have in still quite a bit confidence into people are safe track record by then so i think it may be one of those short term problems. The actually takes care of itself. That's what i'm hoping anyway. Chris thanks very much for that. That was monocled health and science. Dr chris smith.

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