Britain begins giving residents Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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British health authorities on Tuesday rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine, kicking off a global vaccination program that is expected to gain momentum as more sera are approved.
The first shot was given to Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, at Coventry University Hospital, one of several hospitals across the country running the initial phase of the program on what has been dubbed “V-Day”. Luckily, the second injection went to a man named William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old man from Warwickshire, the county where the bard was born.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Keenan, a former jewelry salesman, who wore a surgical mask and a blue Merry Christmas t-shirt decorated with a cartoon penguin. girl wearing a Santa hat and red scarf. “It’s the best birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with family and friends in the New Year after being alone for most of the year. ”

The first 800,000 doses are intended for people over 80 who are either hospitalized or who already have outpatient appointments scheduled, as well as workers in retirement homes. Others will have to wait their turn.

Public health officials have asked the public to be patient as only those most exposed to the virus will be vaccinated at an early stage. Medical staff will contact people to make appointments, and most will have to wait until next year before there are enough vaccines to expand the program.

Stephen Powis, national medical director of England’s National Health Service, said the first injection of the vaccine outside of a trial was an emotional moment.

“It really feels like the beginning of the end,” Powis said. “It’s been a really terrible year, 2020 – all of the things we’re so used to, meeting friends and family, going to the movies, has been disrupted. We can get them back. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. But in the coming months. ”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on reports that Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip are vaccinated as a public example of shooting safety.

Canada among countries reviewing vaccines

Public health officials are watching Britain’s deployment elsewhere as they prepare for the unprecedented task of vaccinating billions to end a pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people. Although the UK has a well-developed infrastructure for the distribution of vaccines, it is designed to deliver them to groups such as schoolchildren or pregnant women, not the general population.

A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London on Tuesday as British health authorities roll out the first doses of a widely tested and independently evaluated COVID-19 vaccine. (Frank Augstein / The Associated Press)

The UK is getting a head start on the project after UK regulators on December 2 gave emergency clearance to the vaccine produced by US drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. Authorities in the United States, Canada and the European Union are also reviewing the vaccine, as well as competing products developed by the American biotech company Moderna and a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the drug maker AstraZeneca.

The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to a select group of UK hospitals on Sunday.

At one such facility, Croydon University Hospital in South London, staff couldn’t touch the vials as much, but were delighted to have them in the building.

“I am so proud,” said Louise Coughlan, Joint Chief Pharmacist at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.

The vaccine cannot arrive soon enough for the UK, which has more than 61,000 COVID-19-related deaths – more than any other country has reported in Europe. The UK has over 1.7 million cases.

The 800,000 doses are only a fraction of what is needed. The government is targeting more than 25 million people, or about 40% of the population, in the first phase of its immunization program, which gives top priority to those most at risk of the disease.

After the over-80s and nursing home workers, the program will be expanded as supply increases, with the vaccine being offered roughly by age group, starting with those most older.

50 hospitals

In England, the vaccine will be delivered to 50 hospitals in the program’s first wave, and more hospitals are expected to offer it as the rollout accelerates. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are developing their own plans under the UK system of decentralized administration.

Logistical problems are slowing the distribution of Pfizer vaccine as it must be stored at extremely cold temperatures

The vaccination program will be a ‘marathon, not a sprint’, said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director.

Authorities are also focusing on large-scale distribution points because each vaccine package contains 975 doses and they don’t want to waste any.

The UK has agreed to buy millions of doses from seven different producers. Governments around the world are making deals with multiple developers to ensure they will see delivery of products that are ultimately approved for widespread use.

Researchers around the world are scrambling to find safe and effective vaccines to fight the new virus that causes COVID-19. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin recently ordered a “large-scale” vaccination against COVID-19 to begin with the nationally developed Sputnik V vaccine which is still undergoing advanced studies necessary to ensure its safety and health. efficiency.

Doctors and teachers will be the first in line. Sputnik V has been offered to medical workers for several months while the vaccine was still in the midst of advanced trials.

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