London: A 90-year-old woman named Margaret Keenan on Tuesday became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as part of the mass vaccination programme being rolled out across the UK.
She was given the injection at 6.31 GMT — the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks. Up to four million more are expected by the end of the month.
Hubs in the UK will vaccinate over-80s and some health and care staff — the programme aims to protect the most vulnerable and allow life to return to normal.
According to the BBC, Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said it was the “best early birthday present”.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19, it’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year,” she added.
The UK is the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer vaccine after regulators approved its use last week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast there was a “long march ahead of us but this marks the way out”.
“This virus is deadly. We’ve got to stick by the rules,” he said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the National Health Service (NHS) and said “all of the scientists who worked so hard to develop this vaccine”, the volunteers and “everyone who has been following the rules to protect others. We will beat this together.”
Also, vaccination will not be compulsory in the UK.
Based on current projections, Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s combined manufacturing network has the potential to supply globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021 — subject to manufacturing capacity and regulatory approval or authorisation.
Pfizer said it has an established infrastructure to supply the vaccine worldwide, including distribution hubs that can store vaccine doses for up to six months, although the company does not expect that the product will need to be stored at any location for more than 30 days due to the high demand.