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(Reuters) – Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine this week, even before the United States authorizes it, the Telegraph news site reported on Sunday.
Citing government sources, it said British regulators were about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and that the National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by Dec. 1.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it would meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to authorize the vaccine.
The UK Department of Health had no comment on Sunday on when the first vaccinations would be administered.
A spokesman said the authorization process by the medical regulator Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is independent of the government and will take as long as they need to review the final data from Pfizer.
“An enormous amount of planning has taken place to ensure our health service stands ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine,” the spokesman added.
Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses and expects to have 10 million doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.
Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Lisa Shumaker