The UK was the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday. This was a crucial moment in the global fight against the coronavirus.

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has been approved by UK emergency regulators and the first doses are expected to be launched early next week.

The UK was one of the pandemic hardest hit countries, with the highest death toll in Europe, and its government has been heavily criticized for managing the crisis.

With that announcement, it has now skipped both the European Union and the United States.

Why was Britain first? The vaccine received emergency approval in the UK from its independent regulatory body, the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), which has played a crucial role in this process.

The MHRA began an ongoing review of Pfizer and BioNTech data in October, reviewing each “data packet” as it became available. This allowed regulators to thoroughly review the data before submitting a final permit application.

According to the MHRA, an ongoing review “can be used to quickly complete the evaluation of a promising drug or vaccine during a public health emergency.”

This approach helped speed up the approval process and a formal review of all required information began in the UK on November 23, leading to the announcement on Wednesday.

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