UK approves Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use next week

The UK government has approved the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use, becoming the first country to do so for widespread use. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani breaks down the details.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: But first, let's get to that vaccine news. Anjalee Khemlani has been covering all the developments there for us. And Anjalee, it is just amazing how quickly all of this has happened, and the UK moving more quickly than most other countries.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's correct, Julie. And of course, the UK has a different regulatory process, and that's why they're here where they are. They actually allow rolling reviews of the data, whereas in the US, we require that bundle to just be delivered as a package to the FDA, after which they will review it, which is the process that they are in right now.

Of course, we know that they are reviewing the emergency use authorization filing for Pfizer BioNTech, so we're not too far behind. But for the UK as it stands right now, they are expected to get 800,000 doses delivered by next week and start administering that first to nursing home patients and staff followed by health care personnel. That's a little bit different from what, of course, we're expecting here in the US.

MYLES UDLAND: As, Anjalee, we see it here on the screen, we just want to go through some of those details that we are getting from the CDC on how they expect to distribute the vaccine. And also, at the same time, we're getting some updates on what the CDC is saying about quarantine rules. And all of this, I guess, to me is getting us really to the next phase of this crisis, and hopefully a slightly more positive one.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right. Myles, so yesterday, the CDC's Vaccine Advisory Committee did hold a meeting and voted on what their recommendation is on who should receive the vaccine first. Now, we have to remember this is a recommendation to the FDA, and it is still up to the state and local governments on how that actually gets distributed.

But what they did say yesterday was that health care personnel as well as nursing home residents and staff are part of that first phase, that first subgroup that should receive the vaccines first. We know that some of these companies have been doing dry runs or getting ready to ship out their vaccines already, Pfizer being one of those companies. We also know that Moderna with emergency use authorization filing last week puts the US in the spot of having at least two options by the end of the year.

So as it stands right now, what that means and how it will eventually be distributed-- still on the table, but that vote yesterday did set the tone of who should receive it first. We know that other options have also been included, and further down the line, they'll be voting on things like minority groups as well as individuals who are 65 and older and high-risk individuals. So that much has at least been settled for now.

And of course, those quarantine rules that the CDC did mention last week that they were going to be know updating quarantine rules-- just based on what we know about the infectiousness of this virus right now based on a year's worth of observation right now and studies, there has been indications that there is a very specific window in which the virus remains transmissible, after which nothing else can happen. So based on that, the CDC is looking to shorten quarantine times.

JULIE HYMAN: And that should make it easier for a lot of people to obey the quarantine and hopefully reduce the spread further. Thank you, Anjalee. Appreciate it.