A 90-year-old grandmother in England became the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this morning.
The UK approved use of the Pfizer vaccine last week, and the nation’s National Health Service is already rolling out its mass immunization program, with Margaret ‘Maggie’ Keenan—who’ll celebrate her 91st birthday next week—receiving her historic jab from nurse May Parsons today at 6:31 am in Coventry.
A retired jewelry shop assistant and grandmother of four, Maggie said her vaccination was “the best early birthday present I could wish for.”
Wearing a “Merry Christmas” charity sweater with a festive penguin on it, Maggie—who has been self-isolating for most of 2020—explained to the Associated Press, “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.”
Nurse Parsons, who’s from the Philippines and has been working for the NHS for 24 years, said to the Guardian, “I’m just glad that I’m able to play a part in this historic day. The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The UK is the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine, and has bought 40 million doses. Shown to have 95% efficacy in trials, the most vulnerable in Britain—certain people over 80, hospital staff, and nursing home workers—are now receiving their first inoculations.
The same vaccine is currently under review for emergency approval by the FDA in the United States. Assent is expected to happen within days. From there, 6.4 million doses are expected to be administered within the first week.
Poorer countries won’t be left out in the cold. GNN reported in November that the Vaccine Alliance has raised $2 billion to buy COVID-19 shots for low- and middle-income countries.
The Pfizer vaccine is not the only jab shown to have high success rates against COVID-19 in late-stage trials. The Moderna vaccine has also shown encouraging results, and Oxford University’s 70.4% efficacy results with AstraZeneca have been confirmed today under peer review.