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UK investigates allergic reaction to COVID vaccine

December 9, 2020

British medicines regulators have advised people with a history of serious allergic reactions not to receive the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Follow DW for all the latest coronavirus news.

A nurse simulates the administration of the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, during a staff training session ahead of the vaccine's rollout
The UK launched a massive coronavirus vaccination campaign this weekImage: Yui Mok/AFP

British regulators said people with a history of serious allergic reactions should not receive the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Regulators revealed two reports of possible allergic reactions from people who received the shot on the first day of the country's mass coronavirus vaccination program.

"We're looking at two case reports of allergic reactions," Dr. June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told a parliamentary committee. "We know from the very extensive clinical trials that this wasn't a feature."

National Health Service (NHS) medical director Stephen Powis said both patients were recovering well and that it was standard practice to receive updated advice from the MHRA.

The MHRA will continue to monitor people who received the vaccine, which trials have proven to be highly effective in preventing COVID-19, the respiratory disease linked to the novel coronavirus.

DW has an overview of the latest major developments around the world.


Germany saw a new record number of daily deaths on Wednesday after 590 deaths were recorded in 24 hours. The number of cases rose by 20,815 — around 3,500 more than the same time the previous week — bringing the total number of infections to 1,218,524 since the pandemic began.


South Korea has reported its second-highest caseload since the start of the pandemic, reporting 686 new infections. New cases have consistently been over 600 this past week as the third wave of infections threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's influential sister has lashed out at South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha for questioning the North's claim to be COVID-free. Kang added that the North had been unresponsive to an offer to jointly tackle the pandemic.

India has announced that some COVID-19 vaccines will receive authorization for emergency use over the next few weeks and laid out an initial plan to inoculate 300 million people.

The Royal Caribbean "cruise-to-nowhere" ship had to return to port in Singapore on Wednesday after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the almost 2,000 passengers to go into quarantine in their cabins.

Singapore piloted the scheme as a means of resuscitating the battered cruise industry — only passengers from Singapore were able to embark on the no-stop trip around the waters of the city's coast.

Middle East

The United Arab Emirates has said China's experimental Sinopharm vaccine has 86% efficacy against COVID-19. Citing interim results of a study conducted in the Gulf state, authorities said the "analysis shows no serious safety concerns" with regard to the vaccine. The trial enlisted 31,000 volunteers from 125 different nations, but the UAE did not provide additional details such as how many people were given a placebo or what side effects participants experienced.

The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said his country is having difficulty buying medicine and health supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic due to US sanctions. Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East with nearly 51,000 deaths and over 1 million COVID-19 infections.

The United States insists humanitarian goods, including medicines, are exempt from sanctions, but many companies fear doing any business with Iran will bring about a punitive response from Washington. The country is also cut off from the international banking system, making it difficult to transfer payments.


US President-elect Joe Biden has vowed that his administration would carry out at least 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. He also said he needed Congress to fully fund delivering vaccines to all corners of the country.

Canada has approved the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, according to the country's health authority, and is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and 4 million more by March.

Health Canada is currently reviewing three other vaccine candidates, including one from Moderna.

Mexico could order an additional 22 million doses of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine as early as this week, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell has announced.

Johnson and Johnson is currently in the midst of its late-stage testing, trialing its vaccine in up to 60,000 volunteers at more than 200 sites across the US, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. 

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adi,ab,jsi/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)