Pfizer BioNTec Immunisation Against Covid-19 Update
Approval by MHRA*, the medicines regulatory body in the UK, of the first of the new vaccinations against Covid-19 has been announced today.
The vaccine is the Pfizer-BioNTec candidate being manufactured in Belgium. This is the vaccine that needs to be kept at a temperature of -700 to -80 0 before use, and careful planning is needed to keep it at the correct storage temperature until it is prepared for use. This requires some logistical planning, and the vaccination teams are aware of the necessary procedures. Vaccination requires 2 injections; the second dose being delivered 20 to 21 days after the first. We understand that protection from Covid-19 should be established by 7 days after the second dose. This means that those getting this vaccine will not be protected until 27 to 28 days from the first dose. Information will be provided for all those being treated with this vaccine.
The Government cannot say exactly when vaccination will start but clearly no time should be lost in setting up the required infrastructure to start vaccinations. The process of administering the vaccinations will start with those most at risk of serious consequences of contracting covid-19 (those aged 80 and over) and those most at risk of catching the virus including front-line NHS staff treating covid cases and those caring for the elderly in care homes. Exact details of how this will be managed are awaited but those most immediately at risk will be followed by those in older age groups and those with a medical condition most likely to be associated with severe outcomes from catching the virus or having difficulties during infection. These include those with long term respiratory conditions and those undergoing certain treatments.
The details of treatment and delivery of vaccination will be provided as the plans are set in motion. It is generally accepted that having MS does not, of itself, increase the risk of being infected with covid-19 but treatment with certain disease modifying drugs may have some influence on risk. If you have queries speak to your MS management team about your concerns. Like the many queries we all have at this time, much depends on your age, personal circumstances and general health.
Hopefully, this is the first in many new ways to combat the coronavirus epidemic. We also believe that many of the lessons learned from the scientific and medical research during the pandemic will have applications in much wider areas of medicine -including MS-in the long term.
MHRA* = Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
This body oversees the effectiveness and safety of all medicines and healthcare products in the UK. Any research that we fund that leads to such products is subject to the same levels scrutiny and checks