The United Kingdom said late Tuesday night that it had approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for mass distribution, BBC News reports.

What happened?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency — Britain’s major medicine regulator, similar to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States — approved the Pfizer vaccine for a safe rollout this month.

  • The vaccine reportedly has 95% protection against COVID-19.

Pfizer said about 800,000 vaccines are on their way to the United Kingdom.

The U.K. expects to deliver the vaccine to elderly in care homes, home care staff, health care workers and those who are over 80 years old, according to BBC News.

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Reaction:

British health Secretary Matt Hancock said the decision to release the vaccine is good news, according to BBC News.

  • “2020 has been just awful and 2021 is going to be better,” he said.
  • “I’m confident now, with the news today, that from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better. And we’re going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy.”
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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.”

What this means for you:

The U.K.’s decision to approve the vaccine might put pressure on the United States to approve the same vaccine for distribution, The New York Times reports.

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The news also raises the debate about how soon countries should approve a vaccine even as it’s been created in record time. No other country has authorized a fully tested vaccine yet. Russia and China approved vaccines before efficacy tests, though, according to The New York Times.

U.S. regulators plan to meet about the vaccine next week.