90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials in the United Kingdom since it was approved by UK authorities. She received the first two doses at the University Hospital in Coventry.
This also means the United Kingdom is the first country in the West to administer the vaccine to its citizens. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved by UK authorities last week and is set to be given to over 40 million Britons in a programmed roll-out.
According to reports monitored by Nairametrics, the vaccine will be administered firstly to medical workers and home caregivers, frontline health workers, those aged 80 and above before being made available to the general public.
The vaccine is given in two shots (doses) and Margaret Keenan will have to go for a second dose in three to four weeks as required by the drug makers and UK authorities.
The UK government has placed an order for 40 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which has been found to be 95% effective in the final analysis of the phase 3 trials in preventing the spread of a virus that has killed over 1.4 million people across the world with its devastating impact on the global economy.
The UK government had on November 20, formally asked its medical regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to conduct a study of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a view to determining its suitability, the first step in making it available outside the United States.
The UK has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world, with over 61,000 deaths from about 1.6 million cases of the coronavirus pandemic.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who spent days in intensive care due to Covid-19 earlier in this year, described this as a huge step forward in UK’s fight against coronavirus pandemic.
The British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who offered to have the vaccine on live television to allay public fears and Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England, both said they found it very emotional watching the vaccine programme rollout.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. With each person requiring 2 doses, that should be enough to vaccinate 20 million people in a country with about 67 million population.
About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week, with residents of care homes and those that take care of them, those above 80 years and some categories of health service workers, expected to be top priority to get this vaccine.
What you should know:
- The US drugmaker, Pfizer Inc, on November 18, 2020, announced that a final analysis of clinical-trial data of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, which it is developing in collaboration with BioTNech, showed it was 95% effective, thereby paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot.
- Pfizer said they had no serious safety concerns in a trial that involved almost 44,000 participants as their vaccine protected people of all ages and ethnicities.
Why this matters
The availability of COVID-19 vaccine is a good sign that the dreaded pandemic would soon be dispensed with. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 vaccination will help stop the infections from spreading further.
As good as wearing masks and social distancing are in helping to reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, they are still not adequate as vaccines seem to work with the immune system to enable it readily fight the virus if exposed.
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