United Kingdom rolling out COVID-19 vaccine to public as world watches

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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.

NHS staff are proud to be leading the way as the first health service in the world to begin vaccination with this COVID jab, he said.

Keenan, who got up early, received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at her local hospital in Coventry, central England, Tuesday morning at 0631 GMT, a week before she turned 91.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorized the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech last week, which was shown to be 95% effective in preventing illness from COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Margaret Keenan is just one of many people at the front of the line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including people over the age of 80, health care staff and care home workers.

Hari Shukla, an 87-year-old man from England's Tyne and Wear metropolitan county, and his wife, 83-year-old Ranjan, would receive the first dose of the two-shot vaccine.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the jab - enough to vaccinate 20 million people - with 800,000 in the first batch.

The UK has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, both in Europe and worldwide, recording over 61,000 deaths and 1.6 million cases.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official said that for countries that are not as financially well-off, they would provide leverage resources to help them obtain a vaccine.

He added: "Someone I was offered the vaccine for - if I can keep it at 90, you can get it too!"

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"We are confident that we will have 100 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine as agreed to in our contract, and beyond that, we have five other vaccine candidates, including 100 million doses on the way from Moderna", an HHS spokesperson said in a statement to the Times. The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to a selected group of United Kingdom hospitals on December 6.

The manufacturers said patients should only experience mild side effects after receiving the injection, and they should usually last for a day or so.

He later apologized and said his comments about the UK's approval were "taken out of context".

Pfizer needs to store its vaccine at ultracold temperatures - below -70 C - and so the company is planning to ship the doses directly to provinces.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems.

As the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, to ensure vaccine safety, batches will be delivered to 14 urban centers across Canada, with systems for delivery and storage now under test.

"At the moment I don't know how I feel - just so unusual and wonderful, really", she told reporters.

The vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech is still being reviewed in the U.S. and other European countries.

But with most people not expected to get vaccinated until early 2021, he said the public still needed to be careful to stop the spread of the virus.

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