The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, with the rollout expected to start as soon as next week.
But the groundbreaking announcement, which has provided light at the end of the tunnel, has prompted a carnival of wild claims, distortions and flat-out lies. Here are some of the most outlandish – and whether there’s a scintilla of truth to the assertions (spoiler alert: not really).
Claim: The Brexit dividend
Source: The government
Straight out of the gate, the UK government was anxious to wrap the announcement in a Union flag.
Matt Hancock ramped up the rhetoric by suggesting that “because of Brexit” the UK has been able approve the vaccine more quickly than if it was an EU member.
“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,” the health secretary said on Wednesday morning.
Sure, the EU has yet to approve the vaccine for use in member states. But his claim was quickly shot down by the UK’s own regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) – which actually granted the temporary authorisation of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for use in the UK. It explained the move was possible under an existing carve-out granted to the UK, so Brexit made no difference.
“We have been able to authorise the supply of this vaccine using provisions under European law which exist until January 1,” June Raine, chief executive of MHRA, told a Downing Street briefing.
And Downing Street wasn’t keen to go there.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The MHRA is globally recognised for requiring the highest standards of quality, safety and medicines regulation and the public should be sure that the vaccine is safe for use.
“It is clear that we are the first country in the world to approve this vaccine and it is incredibly positive news that we will be able to start to distribute...Continue reading on HuffPost