Medicines body chief contradicts Hancock over Brexit vaccine claim | World news

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Matt Hancock has been contradicted by the head of the UK’s medicines regulator after he claimed Brexit helped the UK become the first western country to license a coronavirus vaccine.

In media appearances on Wednesday morning following the announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had been authorised for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), the health secretary credited Brexit as a reason behind the quick move.

“Firstly, because the MHRA has done a great job of working with the company to look at that data as it’s come through and do things in parallel, rather than one after the other as they normally would, that’s the first reason,” Hancock told Times Radio.

Here are some of the key dates ahead for the UK’s Covid-19 restrictions.

The current lockdown in England ends, and the new strengthened tier system comes into force with nearly 99% of England headed for the strictest two tiers. Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are set to go into tier 1, with more than 32 million people in tier 2 and more than 23 million in the toughest tier 3.

New restriction come into force in Wales. Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from serving alcohol, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Businesses can offer a takeaway service after 6pm, and if they have an off-licence can sell takeaway alcohol up until 10pm. Bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades will also have to close.

The rule allowing four people from four different households to meet indoors in pubs and restaurants will stay in place. The decision will be reviewed on 17 December.

Ministers will consider data about England’s coronavirus cases weekly throughout the tiers period, while legislation requires a formal review of tiering allocations every fortnight. The first review point is 16 December, with new tier allocations announced the following day – decided by a cabinet committee chaired by the prime minister. They will come into effect on Saturday 19 December, Boris Johnson said.

For five days over Christmas there will be a UK-wide relaxation of rules to let up to three households form a ‘bubble’ so they can mix socially indoors and stay overnight to enjoy the festive period together. In Scotland, a maximum of eight people will be allowed but that does not include under-12s. In Northern Ireland, the window has been extended to 22-28 December to allow for additional travel time between countries.

Johnson has announced a “sunset” clause on the tiered restrictions in England, meaning they will expire on 3 February and require MPs’ approval if they are to be extended into March.

“The second reason is because, whilst until earlier this year we were in the European Medicines Agency (EMA), because of Brexit we’ve been able to make a decision to do this based on the UK regulator, a world-class regulator, and not go at the pace of the Europeans, who are moving a little bit more slowly.

“We do all the same safety checks and the same processes, but we have been able to speed up how they’re done because of Brexit.”

But June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said the approval was made using provisions under European law, which still binds the UK until the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January.

She told a media briefing about the vaccine: “We have been able to authorise the supply of this vaccine using provisions under European law, which exist until 1 January. Our speed or our progress has been totally dependent on the availability of data in our rolling review and the independent advice we have received.”

In another interview, with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Hancock said he would agree to a live, on-air vaccination to spread the message of the importance of being vaccinated – but only with official authorisation.

Asked by Piers Morgan if they could both be vaccinated on TV, Hancock said: “Well, we’d have to get that approved because, of course, there is a prioritisation according to clinical need and, thankfully, as a healthy, middle-aged man, you’re not at the top of the prioritisation.

“But if we can get that approved and if people think that’s reasonable then I’m up for doing that because once the MHRA has approved a vaccine – they only do that if it is safe.

“If that can help anybody else, persuade anybody else that they should take the vaccine, then I think it’s worth it.”

Matt Hancock ‘thrilled’ to announce UK Covid vaccine rollout next week – video

The government has reportedly been considering using trusted celebrities to push the pro-vaccination message to counter conspiracy theories about vaccines spread online.

In Tuesday’s Commons debate about the new system of tiered Covid restrictions for England, which have replaced the four-week lockdown, one Conservative MP told Boris Johnson he should form part of this effort.

“The way to persuade people to have a vaccine is to line up the entire government and its ministers and their loved ones and let them take it first, and then get all the luvvies, the icons of popular culture out on the airwaves singing its praises,” said Desmond Swayne.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Medicines body chief contradicts Hancock over Brexit vaccine claim | World news

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