by Andrew Trunsky
Britain’s National Health Service administered its first doses of a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, becoming the first country to begin its mass vaccination effort.
Just after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive a fully authorized vaccine outside of a clinical trial, marking the beginning of a global campaign to end a pandemic that has infected over 65 million people and killed over 1.5 million across the globe.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” Keenan said, according to The New York Times. “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.”
90-year-old Margaret Keenan is the first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, administered by Matron May Parsons, as UK's mass vaccination programme begins https://t.co/3eBGv3RUsU pic.twitter.com/ltWAL8uDmr
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 8, 2020
Keenan received a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, a Germany pharmaceutical company, after the United Kingdom approved it for emergency use last week. Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccine has also proved effective in clinical trials, have both applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA, but neither has been granted.
Britain’s administering of its vaccines comes after The New York Times reported Monday that the Trump administration declined to purchase additional doses from Pfizer in July despite repeated warnings that initial demand could vastly exceed supply. Pfizer then proceeded to sign contracts with American allies, meaning that the U.S. could ultimately face vaccine shortages through June.
President Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order Tuesday, Fox News reported, stating that other countries will not receive American-made vaccines before the U.S. is fully vaccinated. Administration officials said that the order does not increase the supply of U.S. doses, according to the Times.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that every American who wants a coronavirus vaccine will be able to get one by the second quarter of 2021.
“My expectation is that next year we return to normalcy in our lives thanks to the incredible work of Operation Warp Speed and these vaccines, as well as the therapeutics,” Azar said during an interview with Axios.
The coronavirus has infected almost 15 million Americans and killed nearly 284,000 as of Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
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Andrew Trunsky is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.