By Voice of America News
(From reports published on December 7 and 8, 2020)
Britain has vaccinated its first citizen against the COVID-19 virus.
Ninety-year-old nursing home resident Margaret Keenan received the first of two doses of a vaccine jointly developed by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
The vaccination campaign, dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary Mark Hancock, began nearly a week after the government’s medical regulatory agency granted emergency approval for the vaccine, making Britain the first western nation ready to begin mass inoculations.
The approval came weeks after Pfizer announced the vaccine had been shown to be more than 90% effective after its final clinical trial.
Keenan, who will turn 91 next week, is among the thousands of nursing home residents and their caregivers, along with staffers with Britain’s National Health Service, that have been prioritized by officials to receive the first shots.
Britain received 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Sunday, the first of a total of 40 million it purchased from Pfizer. Great Britain has a population of more than 66 million people. Delivery of the vaccine is complicated by the fact that it must be stored in super-cold refrigerators at temperatures below 70 degrees Celsius.
Britain has recorded more than 61,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries and the worst affected country in Europe.
The start of the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Britain comes as many other nations inch closer and closer to beginning their own inoculation efforts.
South Korea and Canada
The South Korean government announced Tuesday that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is one of a handful it has secured for its 44 million people. The Health Ministry says it has pre-ordered 64 million doses of vaccines under development by Pfizer, British-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, and U.S.-based drug makers Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, for 34 million South Koreans.
Seoul says another 10 million people will receive vaccines developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and secured through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, the joint project between the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries.
Canada announced Monday it would receive its first doses of the same vaccine by the end of December.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday [see excerpts below] that up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine would arrive this month, and 3 million are slated to be delivered early next year. Canada has a population of more than 37 million people.
Separate Developments: India and Indonesia
In a separate development, the Serum Institute of India has applied for emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine under development by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford. Serum, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is leaning heavily toward the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine because it can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, as opposed to the super-cold requirements of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced Sunday the country has received a shipment of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac biotechnology company. The vaccine is still undergoing testing in Indonesia, where the government is making final preparations for an initiative to inoculate as many as 270 million people.
WHO urging for persuasion over mandating vaccinations
While WHO officials are urging governments to persuade their citizens to get vaccinated, public health experts warn that a mandate may not be the right approach.
“I think all of us who work in public health would rather avoid that as a means for getting people vaccinated,” WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual press conference Monday.
The world has more than 67.6 million total COVID-19 cases, including more than 1.5 million deaths. The United States leads the world in both categories, with 14.9 million total cases and more than 283,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
VOA Video: ‘We’re Ready’ – Baltimore dry ice supplier prepares for COVID Vaccine
The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus must be stored at extremely cold temperatures, raising some concerns about the difficult task of moving it across the United States for inoculations. But dry ice companies across the U.S. say they’re up for the challenge. Voice of America’s Esha Sarai spoke with one such company in Baltimore, Maryland
Covid-19 vaccinations in Canada: Excerpts from remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
December 7, 2020, Ottawa, Ontario
Canada has secured an agreement with Pfizer to begin early delivery of doses of their vaccine candidate.
We are now contracted to receive up to 249,000 of our initial doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in the month of December.
Pending Health Canada approval, the first shipment of doses is tracking for delivery next week.
Shipments will continue to arrive into 2021, with millions of doses on the way.
This will move us forward on our whole timeline of vaccine rollout, and is a positive development in getting Canadians protected as soon as possible.
Pfizer, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the provinces and territories, are working together to finalize preparations at the first 14 vaccination sites this week.
I want to assure Canadians that any vaccine approved in Canada will be safe and effective.
The regulatory process is ongoing and experts are working around the clock.
They will uphold Canada’s globally recognized gold standard for medical approvals.
We also have agreements with six other vaccine candidates, making our range of potential vaccines the broadest and most diverse in the world.
In addition to Pfizer-BioNTech, there are also Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson who have already submitted their vaccine candidates to Health Canada.
We are working hard to ensure that Canadians have access to a safe and secure vaccine as soon as possible, as soon as the doses are ready.
Date posted: December 8, 2020.
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