Pfizer received emergency approval from the U.K. government for its COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, marking the first time any government has granted such approval for a Western-made vaccine.
The country’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said in a statement that the vaccine had met its safety standards. The country will start rolling out the first doses next week, having ordered 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people, since it requires two shots per person. About 800,000 of those will be available in the coming days, according to CNN, with the first shots going to high-risk groups like health-care workers and elderly people who live in long-term care facilities.
The U.S. is expected to follow suit later in December, with President Trump pressuring the FDA to move faster.
In November, Pfizer, which is working with German partner BioNTech, announced that late-stage trials for its mRNA-powered vaccine showed overwhelming effectiveness in combating COVID-19. A competitor, Moderna, is on a similar track, with its vaccine candidate likely to get the FDA’s emergency approval soon after Pfizer’s.
On Tuesday, an influential committee issued recommendations about which Americans should get the vaccines first.