What does the Pfizer vaccine do?

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The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been authorised by the UK’s medicines regulator. The UK is the firs western country to license a vaccine against the coronavirus disease. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has an efficacy of almost 95 percent, making it the most effective vaccine developed so far. As it stands, the UK has 40million doses of the vaccine on order, which will soon be rolled out in hospitals and pharmacies across the country.

What does the Pfizer vaccine do?

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is an mRNA vaccine, which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid.

While most vaccines rely on weakened or inactive parts of the virus to provoke an immune response, the Pfizer version is synthetic.

MRNA is a cutting edge technology and the vaccine is the first to incorporate it in its makeup.

Whereas DNA is where humans store genetic information, mRNA transmits information and helps to determine how genes are expressed.

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Horizon says mRNA “essentially puts DNA instructions into action”.

The mRNA contains instructions to make the “spike” protein of Covid-19, which is introduced into the body as foreign material.

In response to these proteins, the body’s immune pathways are activated, creating a response that offers protection if you were to encounter the vaccine yourself.

In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, researchers synthesised a form of mRNA that will “cause our own cells to male a viral protein” from Covid-19, reports the New York Times.

The protein is harmless in isolation, but prompts the human immune system to “make antibodies and immune cells that can recognise the protein quickly and deliver a swift attack”.

All in all, the main function of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is to protect the body from coronavirus in future.

Pfizer says since the active ingredient in the vaccine – mRNA – is “made from a DNA template in a lab”, scaling up production is “a more rapid process than with conventional vaccines and a major advantage when it comes to sudden pandemics”.

Chairman and Chief Executive of Pfizer, Albert Boula, said the UK’s decision “marks a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19”, adding that “science will win”.

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Pfizer was the first company to announce highly promising results from its Phase 3 trials.

The trials revealed the vaccine has an estimated efficacy of around 95 percent.

Concerns were raised over the fact the jab has to be stored at -70C, posing a practical challenge for health services, but the UK went ahead and bought millions of doses.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week: “Batch testing has been completed this morning for the first deployment of 800,000 doses of the vaccine. This is a year to remember in a year to forget.”

Mr Hancock vowed to launch an extensive “public information campaign” to boost trust in the vaccine’s safety following concerns among the population.

The UK’s medicines regulator, MHRA’s chief Dr June Rain insisted “no corners have been cut” in approving the vaccine, despite immunisations usually taking “around a decade from start to finish before they hit the shelves”.

Dr Raine added: “Our expert scientists and clinicians have worked round the clock, carefully and methodically poring over tables, analyses and graphs on hundreds of thousands of pages of data.

“The safety of the public will always come first.”

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