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The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has stirred controversy online for having been tested on animals. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says the jab has shown 95 percent efficacy in its finals trials and is safe to be rolled out nationwide.

The UK, which was the first country in the world to approve of the vaccine, is expecting 800,000 doses to arrive in the coming days. It has ordered enough doses (40 million) to vaccinate 20 million people so far. 

‘Significant logistical challenges ‘

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says priority will be given to care home staff, NHS staff, and patients. He says this will ensure none of the vaccines are wasted, as it has to be stored at -70C, and hospitals have the facility to meet this requirement.

According to the BBC, Johnson told the public to not get ‘carried away’ with the hope a vaccine could provide – stating ‘significant logistical challenges remain’.

Earlier this month, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced the ‘vaccine candidate produced neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in macaques, as well as antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in both the nonhuman primates and mice’.

‘Saving lives’

The Vegan Society has recently released a statement addressing this after several vegans have slammed the vaccine for being tested on animals.

“It has never been more important for us to talk about the definition of veganism in the context of medications, including vaccines,” the organization wrote.

“The definition of veganism recognizes that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use, which is particularly relevant to medical situations. 

“In the case of Covid-19, vaccination will play a fundamental role in tackling the pandemic and saving lives. As all vaccines currently are tested on animals, at this stage it is impossible to have a vaccine that has been created without animal use.”

The Vegan Society added that in the ‘unlikely event’ that the vaccine is made mandatory – a vegan would be able to request an exemption based on their beliefs.

It added: “However, we would like to make it clear that The Vegan Society encourages vegans to look after their health and that of others, in order to continue to be effective advocates for veganism and other animals.”

Liam Gilliver

Liam is the Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator for Plant Based News. He has written for a number of top publications including Gay Times, Attitude Magazine, Oh Comely, and The Huffington Post - and is the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.