New vaccine promises a return to normal

Frozen: The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at -70C. © iStock

Why is the Covid-19 vaccine such a big deal? The UK is the first country to approve a vaccine for widespread use. But the new vaccines also represent a huge step forward for science.

What’s happening

The Prime Minister made his statement to the TV cameras.

“We are no longer resting on the mere hope that we can return to normal next year”, he said, “But sure and certain… we will”.

He was announcing that the UK had approved a new vaccine for Covid-19. It will start being used this week.

Find out more

In November, three companies announced they had working vaccines for Covid-19. The UK government ordered millions of doses of each and started testing them.

The first one that experts have approved is made by a US company called Pfizer. It offers up to 95% protection against the virus.

A vaccine is a key way of dealing with the pandemic. But protecting the whole country will not be easy.

The doses need to be sent over from Belgium where the vaccine is made. Plus, it needs to be stored at -70C, so the injections will be given in hospitals because they have the right equipment.

The first vaccinations will start this week. The people to get them will be the most vulnerable. They could be immune by January.

Why is the new vaccine such a big deal?

Some say…

Because it will save lives and help us return to normal. Vaccines are a key tool to fight Covid-19, but for months we were not sure if we would even get one. Some people worried it would be too hard to make a vaccine for this coronavirus. Now we have one, it can be used to protect those most at risk and help the world return to normal.

Others think…

We must not forget that it’s also a stunning scientific achievement. Usually, it takes about 10 years to create a successful vaccine. Thanks to teams of brilliant scientists and test patients, we have three different vaccines after just 10 months. This breakthrough could mean we can work faster to protect people from more diseases in the future.

You Decide

  1. Should we trust science more than political leaders?

Activities

  1. Use the information here to create your own timeline of medical breakthroughs as a class. Include the Covid-19 vaccines. Which event do you think is most important?

Some People Say...

“Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.”

Rita Levi-Montalcini, doctor and winner of the Nobel Prize

What do you think?

Word Watch

Mere
Being nothing more than. Here, Boris Johnson meant that we no longer need to hope – we can be sure that things will return to normal.
Vaccine
A vaccine trains your immune system to recognise and be able to fight disease. The most successful vaccine is the smallpox vaccine: in 1980, the world became free of the disease forever.
Doses
An amount of medicine that is measured out and has to be taken at one time. One dose of a vaccine would be enough for one person.
Pfizer
The “p” in the name is silent, so it is pronounced “fizer”.
95%
Pfizer announced this after trials taken on thousands of people willing to be test patients. It is not only effective, but safe.
Vulnerable
Someone who is at risk of something. Those vulnerable to Covid-19 are the elderly and anybody with a health problem that makes their bodies weaker against disease.
Immune
Protected from a disease. This can happen naturally, after you catch something – like chicken pox – or from a vaccine.
Achievement
When somebody does something that should be celebrated, it is an achievement. Getting a good mark on a test is an achievement.

Subjects

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