Britain has formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, to assess the COVID-19 vaccine being produced by Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech, health minister Matt Hancock said on Friday.
The announcement follows news that Pfizer said it would apply to U.S. health regulators for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its vaccine, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus.
“Here in the UK, the first step for authorising a vaccine is for the government formally to ask the independent regulator …, the MHRA, to assess its suitability,” Hancock told reporters.
“I can confirm that the government has formally asked the MHRA to assess the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for its suitability for authorisation.”
Hancock said Pfizer BioNTech has already starting supplying data to the medical regulator and will submit more in the coming days.
“This is another important step forward in tackling this pandemic,” he said. “If a vaccine is approved it will, of course, be available across the UK from our NHS (National Health Service), free at the point of delivery, according to need, not ability to pay.”