The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world to administer the new Covid-19 vaccine developed jointly by the American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
Hundreds of thousands of vials of the vaccine, manufactured at plants in Europe, were shipped through the Channel Tunnel over the weekend in special containers that keep the jabs at ultra-low temperatures.
The first 800,000 doses are going to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers. Others will have to wait their turn.
The vaccine needs to be injected into a patient’s shoulder twice over a three-week period.
The manufacturers said patients should only experience mild side effects after receiving the injection, and they should usually last for a day or so.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, just enough for about a third of the population as two shots of the drug are needed per person to gain immunity.
On Saturday, Russia began vaccinating thousands of doctors, teachers and others at dozens of centers in Moscow with its Sputnik V vaccine.
That program is being viewed differently because Russia authorized use of the shot last summer after it was tested in only a few dozen people.
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. https://t.co/poOYG1vHQe
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 8, 2020
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