A 90-year-old British grandmother of four has become the first person in the West to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside clinical trials.
On Tuesday, the UK became the first Western nation to begin administering a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.
At 6:31 a.m. local time, Margaret Keenan was given her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech at University Hospital in Coventry.
Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “so privileged” to take the vaccine, according to the National Health Service.
“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 said, according to the NHS.
The UK began its massive rollout to vaccinate its citizens less than a week after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved by the country’s drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The decision to approve the vaccine came after “months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness,” the regulator said last week.
The UK has ordered about 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people to be vaccinated with the two-dose shot. Officials have said that healthcare workers and vulnerable members of society will get top priority.
The vaccine is said to prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19, but it’s unclear if it prevents transmission of the disease, so masks, social distancing, and other mitigation strategies will be needed while the vaccine is rolled out.
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