The Pfizer facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, on December 1, 2020.


kamil krzaczynski/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

LONDON—The U.K. became the first Western nation to grant emergency-use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine, clearing a shot developed by Pfizer Inc.
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of the U.S. and BioNTech SE
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of Germany to be distributed in limited numbers within days.

The two-shot vaccine is also being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout before the end of the year.

The U.K. green light punctuates a monthslong sprint by the two drugmakers, which teamed up earlier this year and then pulled ahead of two other Western pharmaceutical giants, each with its own promising shot. Vaccines typically take years to bring to market.

It also marks a key milestone in efforts to translate a promising new vaccine technology into a widely available shot. It was developed, tested, authorized and is now poised to be distributed amid a pandemic that has sickened tens of millions of people and killed more than 1.4 million around the world.

An expanded version of this story is available at WSJ.com


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