A 90-year-old grandmother became the world’s first person to receive a fully-tested COVID-19 shot yesterday, as Britain began mass-vaccinating its people in a global drive that poses one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history.
Health workers started inoculating the most vulnerable with the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with the country a test case for the world as it contends with distributing a compound that must be stored at -70C (-94F).
The country has ordered enough supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot to vaccinate 20 million people. The developers said it was 95% effective in preventing illness in final-stage trials. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 in a week, was the first to receive the 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 the year,” she said.
The launch of the vaccine, one of three shots that have reported successful results from large trials, will fuel hope that the world may be turning a corner in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people.