First Covid vaccine has been administered in the US
The first Covid-19 vaccination in the United States has taken place, as the country gears up for its largest-ever immunisation campaign.
An intensive care nurse in Long Island, New York, is believed to have been the first person to receive a shot.
Millions of vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been distributed, with 150 hospitals which have been expected to receive doses on Monday.
The US vaccination programme aims to reach 100 million people by April.
Covid-19 deaths have been summed 300,000 in the US, which has by far the world’s highest death toll.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have received emergency-use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday.
“The first Vaccine Administered. Congratulations the USA! Congratulations WORLD!” President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday morning following the news from New York.
The roll-out of the vaccine comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the country. The mortality rate has been increasing sharply since November and the number of people in hospital with the disease has also continued to grow steadily, with more than 109,000 people currently hospitalized, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
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Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the vaccine live on camera.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Ms Lindsay said. “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”
UPS employees have moved one of two shipping containers containing the first shipments of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine a bank at UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 13, 2020
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – a synergy between a US pharmaceutical giant and a German biotechnology company – offers up to 95% protection and has been the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by US regulators.
It is already being rolled out in the UK, while Canada has also begun its vaccination programme on Monday, with an initial 30,000 doses gone to 14 sites across the country.
Anita Quidangen, a caregiver at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, was the first to receive the vaccine in Canada.
image caption Anita Quidangen received the vaccine in Toronto
The first three million doses in the US have been distributed to dozens of locations across all 50 states by cargo plane and truck.
Chart showing the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US since the start of the pandemic
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“Because the vaccine has to be kept at extremely low temperatures, the vials are stored in dry ice-cooled packages as they are whisked around the country. GPS-enabled thermal sensors are also being used to track the temperature of shipments as they are delivered”.
media caption US Covid vaccine: Three key questions answered:
“Most Americans will not be able to receive the vaccine until well into 2021 but the roll-out beginning this week is seen as a key symbolic turning point in the nation’s battle against the pandemic, with hopes that take-up will be high”.
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“I think it’s been probably the darkest December on record here. As of this last week, Covid-19 is the leading cause of death in the US, even more than cancer and heart disease”, Dr. Dora Mills of MaineHealth, a network of 12 hospitals in Portland, Maine, has told the BBC.
“It’s a very dark season for us, but it’s also extraordinary that we have a vaccine less than a year after this virus has emerged. If the efficacy and safety data hold up, this is likely [to be] the greatest public health and scientific achievement of our lifetime.”
Vaccines delivered in Boston, Massachusetts
Boston health workers received shipments of the vaccine on Monday.
On Monday, US health secretary Alex Azar had told NBC’s Today programme there was now a “light at the end of the tunnel of this horrible pandemic”.
“If you are recommended to get it, and it’s available to you – oh, please do get it,” he urged. “Protect yourself and protect those around you. But please, get the vaccine.”
A truck was positioned at the loading dock of the Pfizer Inc., manufacturing and storage facility in Portage, Michigan, USA, 13 December 2020.
image captionThe vaccines are kept cold during transportation using dry ice
The first doses were expected to be given to selected healthcare workers and elderly people living in residential care.
Health centres have planned to lurch vaccinating workers to account for any side effects, according to US media. The reported side effects, including fatigue, fever, and headaches, are typically mild to moderate in severity.
Researchers say any serious side effects are not common.
”Senior members of the Trump administration had been due to be some of the first in line, but President Trump now said he has reversed the plan”.
He tweeted on Sunday that people working at the White House “should receive the vaccine somewhat later… unless specifically necessary”.
US President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated as president on 20 January, has set a goal of 100 million Covid vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.
That would represent roughly a third of the country’s total population.
Pfizer has agreed on a deal to supply the US with 100 million doses of the vaccine by March.
“An additional 200 million doses of a second vaccine, developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, will be provided by June. The vaccine is yet to be approved by regulators but will be reviewed by an expert panel later this week”.