BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 fast vaccine approval translates into less logistical challenges for the UK

Following recent news that the UK will become one of the first countries in the Western world to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine;

Urte Jakimaviciute, Senior Director of Market Research at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, shares her views:

“Despite being a part of European Medicines Agency (EMA), the UK became the first EU country to give a green light to BioNTech/Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use. The UK’s fast approval of the vaccine may be seen as a strategic move as it allows for the UK to import this Belgium-manufactured vaccine and avoid post-Brexit-imposed border delays.

“While all the EU countries could follow the UK’s approach, these countries are encouraged to wait for EMA’s approval first, which may take weeks to materialize. The UK, which is due to leave the EU and take back control over its domestic affairs by the end of the year, demonstrated its immunity for the EU’s pressure to wait.

“The EU custom union guarantees the uninterrupted goods and services movement within its members; yet the UK is getting closer to the date when it all is going to end. Despite the scale of the UK pharmaceutical industry, the UK imports a significant amount of medications from the EU meaning that any border-imposed delays will also affect the imports of the vaccines coming from the EU, including BioNTech/Pfizer’s vaccine.

“The UK Government has been urging the drug suppliers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines to minimize the disruption caused by Brexit after the transition period ends at the end of the year. The transportation of the BioNTech/Pfizer’s vaccine is already challenging due to the need for the vaccine to be stored in minus 70 Celsius degrees. Given that cold chain distribution requirement is already adding some complex layers of challenges, eliminating or avoiding any possible supply chain disruptions would be an important consideration for the UK to make.

“Delays in vaccine rollout is also associated to economic risks. The sooner an effective vaccine is available, the sooner the country can begin to return to normal. The UK has already suffered one of the deepest recessions among the world’s top economies during the first wave of COVID-19 outbreak. Trying to get back to normal as soon as possible may help the country to be better prepared to sustain economic damages brought by Brexit.”

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