• Sunday, July 03, 2022

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‘We will beat this together’, says Johnson as Britain starts mass Covid-19 vaccination

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks to staff at Guy’s Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK’s history on December 8, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Frank Augstein – Pool / Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

BRITAIN began the mass-vaccination of its population against Covid-19 on Tuesday(8), becoming the first Western nation to do so in a global endeavour that poses one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history.

Prime minister Boris Johnson welcomed the start of the vaccination programme and thanked health workers, scientists and people who had volunteered for testing.

“We will beat this together,” Johnson said in a message on social media, and urged the public to continue to follow guidance aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

On a day dubbed ‘V-Day’, health workers started inoculating people with a shot 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).

Britain is the first country globally to begin mass inoculations with that vaccine, one of three shots that have reported successful results from large trials after being developed in record time.

Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from Britain, was the first person in the world to receive the vaccine outside of a trial following its rapid clinical approval.

Health minister Matt Hancock described the start of vaccinations as ‘V-Day’. “If we manage to do that for everybody who is vulnerable to this disease, then we can move on and we can return to normal,” he said.

The launch 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 and crushed economies.

Britain, the worst-hit European country with over 61,000 deaths, has ordered enough supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot to vaccinate 20 million people. The developers said it was 95 per cent effective in preventing illness in final-stage trials.

Russia and China have both already started giving domestically produced vaccine candidates to their populations, though before final safety and efficacy trials have been completed.

In Britain, about 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week, with care home residents and carers, the over-80s and some health service workers prioritised.

“The deployment of this vaccine marks a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic,” said Simon Stevens, head of the publicly funded NHS health service.

In total Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot. As each person requires two doses, that is enough to vaccinate 20 million people in the country of 67 million.

But the country is spreading it bets and has ordered 357 million doses of seven different Covid-19 vaccines in all.

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