90-Year-old 1st to receive Covid-19 vaccine: Britain starts mass drive

90-Year-old 1st to receive Covid-19 vaccine: Britain starts mass drive

- Britain's National Health Service has officially started delivering shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

- Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person in the world to receive a clinically-authorised, fully-tested coronavirus vaccine.

- Britain has now become the first nation to kick off a mass inoculation campaign using a fully tested vaccine

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Britain has officially become the first nation on earth to kick off a mass inoculation campaign using an approved coronavirus vaccine.

Doctors, nurses are among the few that are set to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine first in the country.

Medical workers have now started administering the shots just under a week after British regulators beat the United States to authorising a vaccine in a bid to halt the spread of the pandemic that has taken over 1.5 million lives.

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Mainstream
Margaret Keenan received the first dose of the vaccine. Image: Jacob King - Pool
Source: Getty Images

Margaret Keenan, 90, has now become the first patient in the world to receive the fully-tested vaccine.

The first batch sees Britain distributing 800 000 doses of the vaccine according to a government statement.

The trays holding the vaccines need to be kept in near-Artic temperatures and have been transported from a Belgium plant to government warehouses in Britain before heading off to hospitals, reports The New York Times.

The plan at the moment is that 50 hospitals will be administering the shots until a refined plan for distribution at homes for the elderly and doctor's offices can be finalised.

The vaccine needs to be transported at freezing temperatures, although Pfizer has now confirmed that the vaccine can be stored for 5 days in a standard refrigerator before use.

Medical officials have received invitations to sign up for appointments, with the first vaccines set to help those at the highest risk of severe illness.

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The state has indicated that elderly citizens who already have appointments scheduled for this week, or who are set to be released from select hospitals, will also be included in this early inoculation drive.

Commenting on the historic moment, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that all parts of the country now have doses.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented on the occasion, expressing his gratitude:

"Today the first vaccinations in the UK against COVID-19 begin. Thank you to our NHS, to all of the scientists who worked so hard to develop this vaccine, to all the volunteers - and to everyone who has been following the rules to protect others. We will beat this together."

Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that a report had explained that South Africa likely won't have wide access to Pfizer and BioNTECH's Covid-19 which has shown highly positive results during late-stage trials.

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This is due to the face that the vaccine needs below freezing temperatures, a difficult feat in sunny SA.

The report indicates that large hospitals in the US are currently lining up to purchase highly expensive freezers that cost between R150 000 and R235 000 each while the company seeks out emergency approval for the vaccine.

This means that, save for a few highly specialised institutions, South Africans will need to wait for a more viable candidate.

The majority of local vaccines need to be kept between two and eight degrees Celsius, meaning that the majority of hospitals and clinics don't own one of these specialised freezers.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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