Coming on the heels of the nation's acceptance of tougher restrictions in the lead up to Christmas, the announcement that the UK Government has now authorised the use of the first COVID vaccine offers a much needed boost to morale. However, while the NHS has decades of experience in delivering large-scale vaccination programmes it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions to allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed.
This week has provided hope and optimism that the end of the pandemic is finally in sight, with the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use. With almost half of Britain now in tier three and many small businesses facing closure, such news is sure to bring optimism for businesses and investors alike, providing much needed rest-bite for businesses to help them recover and enable future growth.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the vaccine roll-out has been the first real news announcement that has viable potential to support society back to “normal” this is in no small part down to vital biotech innovation that has been able to move forward at record speed when it was crucially needed. Today’s landmark announcement comes as a welcome reminder for the UK’s investor community to support future facing innovation both by way of R&D and scale-up finance; arguably, despite the global benchmark set with today’s announcement, the cumbersome nature of pharmaceutical advancements has definitely been brought into focus with the onset of the pandemic.
Vaccine authorisation based on rigorous and ethical research
“The Emergency Use Authorisation in the UK will mark the first time citizens outside of the trials will have the opportunity to be immunised against COVID-19,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “We believe that the roll-out of the vaccination program in the U.K. will reduce the number of people in the high-risk population being hospitalised. Our aim is to bring a safe and effective vaccine upon approval to the people who need it. The data submitted to regulatory agencies around the world are the result of a scientifically rigorous and highly ethical research and development program.”
According to Pfizer's press announcement the MHRA’s decision is based on a rolling submission, including data from the Phase 3 clinical study, which demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% (p<0.0001) in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (first primary objective) and also in participants with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (second primary objective), in each case measured from 7 days after the second dose. The first primary objective analysis is based on 170 cases of COVID-19, as specified in the study protocol. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, with an observed efficacy in adults age 65 and over of more than 94%. In the trial, BNT162b2 was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported by the Data Monitoring Committee to date. This decision also is based on a review of Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) data for BNT162b2.
In a previous press release, Pfizer stated that it is confident in its vast experience, expertise and existing cold-chain infrastructure to distribute the vaccine around the world. The companies have developed specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilising dry ice to maintain temperature conditions of -70°C±10°C. They can be used be as temporary storage units for 15 days by refilling with dry ice. Each shipper contains a GPS-enabled thermal sensor to track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment across their pre-set routes leveraging Pfizer’s broad distribution network.
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit the efficacy and safety data from the study for peer-review in a scientific journal once analysis of the data is completed.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:
Vaccine expected to boost private capital investment
Private investment is a vital catalyst for wider economic growth - with the UK's high net worth community providing essential early indicators for the direction of wealth at a time where the distribution of capital is key. With a 12% increase in new businesses starting up during 2020 compared to 2019, the new year is set to create some exciting investment opportunities for investors throughout the country and some that are sure to boost the wider British economy.
Over and above its financial impact, the vaccine also serves as a significant moral booster for the UK’s workforce in a period where uncertainty is rife and the economy is only as strong as the workforce that underpins it. The wider sentiments of returning the work safely is paramount and with the widespread roll out of the Pfizer vaccine to begin next week, many across the UK will now be able to return to their jobs in a safe manner without having to worry about their health, furthermore helping to revitalise the economy from the ground up.
Private capital has proven to be fundamental in helping UK businesses grow and flourish post-pandemic, and will be a welcomed sight for many SMEs throughout the country. The news of the vaccine’s approval is sure to bring investment flowing back into SME’s and start-ups which is key for the resurgence of the UK economy, with the SME community making up 99.9% of private sector businesses.
CEO of IW Capital, Luke Davis said:
“The success of the vaccine is a welcomed sight for investors who now see an opportunity for growth. Such great news brings optimism for both investors and small businesses alike, with the fourth quarter looking stronger and early 2021 now looking promising.
“It’s truly positive to see an increase in new businesses compared to last year even with the uncertainty and limitations that the pandemic has produced. With more and more people looking to start their own businesses, private capital is proving to be crucial and with the new year bringing hope to investors, we should start to see these new businesses flourish.
“Here at IW, we prioritise in biotech investment as we understand the importance of the industry and its impact during these times. There is a real need for investors to look towards the biotech industry to support such future facing innovations that now play an integral role in our society.
“The SME community make up 99.9% of private sector businesses, and so supporting them to ensure their financial growth, is of the utmost importance to the overall health of the UK economy. Small firms already employ over 16million people in the UK, and pre-pandemic, this sector was growing at a faster rate than the overall job market. A return to this would provide a welcome boost.
“Making growth investment more easily available to small businesses that are looking to grow should be a priority. The last time that the Government-backed EIS was extended, it resulted in a significant jump in private investment into small businesses. Replicating this effect with new, or increased, incentives would provide a much needed boost to a section of the economy that is most in need, and so we hope this will be addressed in the near future.”