Jens Spahn rejected suggestions that the UK had benefited from a quick approval process thanks to Brexit, and indicated that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is a European-made product. The attack comes after Mr. Hancock claimed that the United Kingdom was able to go ahead in the race to obtain an approved vaccine and “not go at Europeans’ pace” due to the fact that it is no longer a member of the bloc.

But Spahn told reporters at an EU news conference on Wednesday that while Britain was the first to approve the vaccine, he is optimistic that the European Medicines Agency will follow suit soon.

He said: “But some notes on Brexit to my British friends – BioNtech is a European development, from the European Union.

“The fact that this EU product is so good that Britain quickly agreed to it shows that European and international cooperation is the best in this crisis.”

Mr Spahn said he feels proud that a German company has played a major role in developing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jens Spahn said Brexit did not play a role in the UK’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine (Image: Getty)

Coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer vaccine could be distributed in the UK as early as next week (Image: Getty)

He said that EU member states could have issued similar emergency approvals but Europe decided to go ahead as one.

“It is very important that we do this to help build confidence in this mandate,” said Mr. Span.

He stressed that he was not the only official who was outraged by the British celebration of being the first to accept it as a national victory.

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When British Business Secretary Alok Sharma hailed the approval on Twitter as “the day the UK led the humanitarian accusation against the disease”, Germany’s ambassador to London launched a drastic response.

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The United Kingdom approved the Pfizer vaccine at noon on Wednesday (Image: Getty)

Andreas Michaelis tweeted: “I don’t really think this is a patriotic story.

“Although the German company BioNTech has made a decisive contribution, this is considered European and across the Atlantic.”

It emerged Wednesday that the UK had approved the Pfizer COVID injection, leaping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to start the most important mass vaccination program in history.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has granted approval for the emergency use of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology partner BioNTech.

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Coronavirus vaccine

The armed forces are expected to play a major role in distributing the COVID vaccine (Image: Getty)

Drug makers said their development is 95 percent effective in preventing disease.

The approval came just 23 days after Pfizer published the first data from the final phase of the clinical trial.

Ben Osborne, Pfizer UK’s regional director, said the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) were given the same information.

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Asked about a statement from the EMA indicating that it was imposing more stringent checks than the emergency operation used by the MHRA, he said.

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Coronavirus map UK (Photo: EXPRESS)

“Conditional marketing permission is a completely different regulatory process from emergency authorization and in the event of a pandemic,” said Mr. Osborne.

He added, “We have provided complete data packages – unencrypted data – for both regulators (EMA and MHRA).

“I think what you see is just the difference in the basic process and timelines, versus any difference in data transmission.”

Boris Johnson said that the approval of the vaccine by the British Medical Authority represents a ray of hope amid the epidemic.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson said the approval of the Pfizer injection was great news for the UK (Image: Getty)

The UK has the highest COVID death toll in Europe, with 59,051 people having died after testing positive.

More than 1.6 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the United Kingdom.

The prime minister told Parliament the approval was “great news” for Britain, although he warned that people should not be swept away.

He added: “At this stage, it is very important that people not raise their hopes too early for the speed with which we will be able to introduce this vaccine.”