The UK became the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, with its regulator clearing Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s shot ahead of decisions in the US and European Union.

The emergency authorization clears the way for the deployment of a vaccine that’s expected to play a significant role in the global effort to halt the coronavirus. Pfizer and its German partner said in November that the shot, relying on novel technology called messenger RNA, was 95% effective in a final analysis of clinical-trial data.

The vaccine will be available in Britain from next week, according to a government statement. The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said on Wednesday that the vaccine “met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”

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