What happened: On Wednesday, The United Kingdom became the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, jumping ahead of the United States and Europe after its regulator cleared a shot developed by Pfizer for emergency use in record time.
The vaccine will be rolled out from early next week in a major coup for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, which has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus crisis with Britain enduring the worst official COVID-19 death toll in Europe.
A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have said their vaccine is 95% effective in preventing illness, much higher than expected.
The U.S. drugmaker said Britain’s emergency use authorization marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19.