Despite criticism from the European Union, Britain proceeded with its mass vaccination this week with a 90-year-old grandmother being the world’s first person to receive a full-teste COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
The most vulnerable were the first to get the shots of vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as Britain become the first country to use the globally recognized COVID-19 vaccine even though countries like China and Russia had rolled their out much earlier but the level of transparency in these two countries makes the rest of the world doubt their trustworthiness.
And speaking of the world first person to take the first shot, Margaret Keenan who is currently 90 will turn 91 in a week received her own shot at a hospital in Coventry, central England.
“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 (this) year,” she said.
With that said, the fact that the Pfizer’s vaccine got approved in the UK showed it’s probably going to be adopted pretty soon in the United States as new cases surge as regulatory agencies raised no new safety or efficacy issues.
Britain is one of the Europe’s most-hit with more than 61,000 fatal cases and that had prompted different critics to blame the government over its handling of the pandemic. Britain also becomes the first Western nation to start mass vaccinations and the first to utilize the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.
While this is a good news, its not proven yet that immunization against the coronavirus will reduce transmission as those who got their first dose will have to wait for another three weeks before getting their second shot.
“It will gradually make a huge, huge difference. But I stress gradually, because we’re not there yet. We haven’t defeated this virus yet,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
According to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, millions are expected to be vaccinated before the year ends and has described the start of the drive as “V-Day” even though he cautioned people should continue practicing social-distancing regulations until spring when he hoped the most vulnerable people would be vaccinated.
With the Pfizer’s vaccine reported to have a significant 95% efficacy, the British government had ordered enough supplies to shot 20 million people out of 67 million.
STORAGE AND TRANSPORTATION
In the UK, some 800,000 doses of the vaccines are expected to be available within the first week with care-home residents and careers, the over-80s and some health workers being at the top of the priority list as Hancock completely believed in the vaccination.
Britain would take delivery of another batch of the vaccine next week.
“I know we’re absolutely bursting at the doors with COVID patients, so I more than anybody want it to happen quickly,” said Ami Jones, a hospital intensive-care consultant from Wales who received the shot before going to work.
Geographically, Britain isn’t so big but there are good infrastructures in place to ensure the safe distribution and delivery of the vaccine even though there are still logistical challenges as the vaccine is said to last only for 5 days in a regular fridge which means it needs to first go to hospitals before being taken to care homes.
Now take a hot region as an example where transportation and distribution is a serious problem. The United States is one of the most severely hit by the pandemic with tens of thousands of lives already lost and India is another hot region.
South Korea has been able to cope well with the pandemic but still warned that a hurried vaccine rollout in the country will not be the main focus now as it will give things time and further observe the potential side effects in other countries that got before them. Vaccinations may start in the first half of 2021, the health ministry added.
AstraZeneca is the third company that have been able to develop a successfully tested vaccine with about 90% efficacy and its hoping to manufacture for developing countries upon approval. It’s vaccines can also be easily transported at normal fridge temperature and are cheaper.
More works still needs to be done to ensure the 90% effectiveness of the vaccine in all cases. Late-stage trials found it had average efficacy of 70.4% in peer-reviewed data.
As for Britain, the emergency approval was announced just this past week and it’s being criticized by the European Union for its hasty roll out of the vaccination stating more research and safety checks needs to have been put in place to ensure the safety of those who partake in the shots.
But Britain which is pulling away from the EU still have until Dec. 31st as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hope to pull the United Kingdom away.
The government of the nation also ordered in total some 357 million doses of seven different COVID-19 vaccines with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being imported from Belgium while initial supplies of the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot will be shipped from Europe.
Amid the gravity of the pandemic, the vaccination on Tuesday of one William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old man from Warwickshire in England, was greeted with humour on social media.
Twitter users joked about “The Taming of the Flu” and “The Two Gentlemen of Corona”. Some asked whether Margaret Keenan was patient 1A, and Shakespeare “Patient 2B or not 2B?”