The UK is getting ready for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine launch this week

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Pfizer logo can be seen at the entrance to the Pfizer factory in Puurs

LONDON (Reuters) – The UK is preparing to be the first country to launch the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week. The vaccine will first be made available in hospitals before the stocks are distributed to medical clinics, the government said on Sunday.

The first doses are due to be given on Tuesday, with the National Health Service (NHS) making vaccination of those over 80, frontline health workers, and nursing home workers and residents a top priority.

Great Britain issued the emergency permit for the from Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 and BioNTech last week – in the global race for the most important mass vaccination program in history.

In total, Britain has ordered 40 million doses – enough to vaccinate 20 million people in the country's 67 million.

Approximately 800,000 doses are expected to be available in the first week.

First cans that have arrived from Belgium will be kept in safe locations across the country where they will be quality checked, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has high storage requirements. It has to be stored at -70 ° C and will only last five days in a normal refrigerator.

Because of this, the Ministry of Health said the vaccine would be given in 50 hospitals first. It said it would take a few hours to thaw out each vaccine and prepare it for use.

NHS England has written to general practitioners telling them to prepare to receive vaccinations from local medical services from December 14th.

Instead of running clinics in individual surgeries, groups of local doctors will operate more than 1,000 vaccination centers across the country, the government said.

The vaccine packs contain five packs of 975 doses, but special government approval is required to split them. A senior doctor said that while he was hopeful that it would be possible to split the packs and deliver them directly to nursing homes, this was not guaranteed.

The UK is among the first nations to introduce vaccination outside of a clinical trial, which raises hopes that the tide could soon turn to a virus that has killed nearly 1.5 million people around the world and ravaged the global economy.

Russia began distributing its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to 70 clinics in Moscow on Saturday, although the shot has not yet completed its final attempts.

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