European embassies were among the first to register their disdain, with Germany’s ambassador Andreas Michaelis asking: “Why is it so difficult to recognise this important step forward as a great international effort and success?”
Belgium’s embassy in London said the jab’s approval was “another fine example of international cooperation to tackle the virus #StrongerTogether”, while France’s diplomatic team retweeted a BBC News “reality check” of Mr Hancock’s Brexit claim.
Switzerland’s medical regulator said it did not yet have enough information about the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to follow in the UK’s footsteps, and Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said: “We decided against this and what we opted for was a common European approach to move forward together.”
In the US there was mixed reaction. Alex Azar, the health secretary, told Fox Business that Americans should be reassured that another government had declared the vaccine safe to use, though he said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would “run through its process” before approval.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top American infectious disease expert, suggested the UK had not approved the jab in “the correct way”. He told Fox: “We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA. The UK did not do it as carefully and they got a couple of days ahead.”
Australia is also taking a more cautious approach, though it has a much lower incidence of Covid-19 than the UK. Scott Morrison, the prime minister, said that “our first priority is it be safe” and that the four vaccines Canberra was hoping to use still had “stages to pass in the months ahead”, ABC News reported.
Dr June Raine, its head, said the recommendation followed “the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data so that it meets the required strict standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality”.