Starting next week, the United Kingdom will become the first country in the world to massively vaccinate the population to stop the pandemic which has plagued every corner of the planet since last January. British authorities have proven to be much more agile than European ones when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens. The British drug regulatory agency, MHRA, has given the green light to Pzifer Y BioNTech to begin distributing the first 800,000 doses of its vaccine, which has an effectiveness rate that its developers place above 95%.
The first lucky ones will be the elderly English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish people who are admitted to nursing homes, as well as their caregivers. Subsequently, Downing Street will focus on the population over 80 years old and the rest of the health personnel. A strategy that shows that the United Kingdom had already established a vaccination plan for a long time, without the need to discuss it with 27 other nations. Meanwhile, in some countries of the Union, discussion continues on the population groups they should be the first to receive the miracle elixir when the vaccine arrives.
The British have not hesitated to point to the Brexit as the origin of the health advancement by the right to the European Union. Keep apart from centralized purchasing for the whole of the EU it will allow London to secure the first doses of the drug. A weapon that can be double-edged if we look at the cost it will have for His Majesty’s public coffers.
Being the first also has its price. The pfizer vaccine could suppose for the British treasury an approximate cost of 660 million euros. A resulting amount much more expensive than the treatment proposed by Oxford AstraZeneca. A dose of the latter is barely 3.3 euros, while that of Pfizer BioNTech adds up to 15.4 euros per unit. So things, each patient ‘saved’ will have a cost for the British health system of more than 30 euros, while Europeans can access other options for only 6 euros.
Each patient ‘saved’ will have a cost for the British health system of more than 30 euros, while for Europeans it will be only 6.
But nevertheless, Boris Johnson He does not seem to be frightened by these figures, ridiculous if we take into account the economic effects that the pandemic has left in the United Kingdom. As soon as the news was announced and with all the pageantry of the English Parliament, the ‘premier’ assured that it will be precisely the protection offered by vaccines “that will finally allow us to recover our lives and get the economy moving again “.
That long-awaited recovery was what led the British Government to secure 40 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech outside the EU. For its part, the community authorities have pre-contracted 200 million doses which is still in the authorization phase by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The placet is expected to arrive at the end of the month, but we will have to wait for the last permit from the European Commission, which will be the institution responsible for giving the final green light for the product to be marketed in the European Economic Area.
Undoubtedly, the UK has put a very important medal on its lapel. Many of the instigators of Brexit have not taken a second to claim the success of the operation. “We are the first thanks to our departure from Europe”, they cried yesterday in the streets of London, in an attempt more to reinforce their isolationist position than to congratulate themselves on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Regardless of Brexit and its greater or lesser influence on the UK being ahead of the EU in acquiring this global panacea, not everything is oregano in the English countryside. The characteristics of the Pzifer and BioNTech vaccine make hospitals will become the first vaccination centers. The cooling and maintenance requirements of the purchased doses reach -70 degrees. A temperature that only the large and advanced cameras located in the nerve centers of the British health system can reach.
Its chief executive officer, Sir Simon Stevens, stated that the health service was preparing to “the largest-scale vaccination campaign in the history of our country.” At least in a first phase, the meeting points of the vaccination campaign will have to have the British health system, which is already passing its particular stress tests before the effects that the second wave of the pandemic is leaving in the Kingdom United.
A failure, whatever it may be, in the vaccination campaign could put, even more, in question the management that the government of Boris Johnson is carrying out with respect to Covid-19. The high number of infections and restrictive measures that have not been welcomed by the population could derail Johnson’s efforts to take a step forward in the unbridled race for mass vaccination.
But this is not the last paradox the UK is experiencing. The first doses will have to depart from the warehouses of the Pfizer factory in Belgium. European trucks will have to access the United Kingdom via the English Channel in a complex logistical transfer and in which the EU will have to see how the long-awaited doses leave the European territory to land in another country outside the bureaucratic rules of Brussels.
Curiously a vaccine designed by Americans and Germans will have its first beneficiaries in a UK outside the European Union. An example of globalization that is coming and going.