After UK, US, Canada begin administering first doses of COVID vaccine

After UK, US, Canada begin administering first doses of COVID vaccine
Photo: Reuters

New York: The biggest vaccination drive in American history got underway on Monday with a critical care nurse here becoming the first person in the US to be vaccinated for COVID-19, providing a glimmer of hope as the country nears the grim milestone of nearly 300,000 coronavirus deaths.

Frontline nurse Sandra Lindsay was administered the shot developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, in Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens Monday.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said the pandemic has been horrific.

It was a modern-day battlefield and that's why the word heroes is so appreciated for what you did. The vaccine is the weapon that will end the war. It is the beginning of the last chapter of the book, Cuomo said just before Lindsay was given the vaccination.

Cuomo clapped as he watched Lindsay take the vaccination shot. Lindsay said she feels hopeful and relieved and healing is coming.

I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history, she said, adding that she wants to instil confidence in the public that the vaccine is safe.

She stressed that while there is light at the end of the tunnel, people still need to continue to wear their masks, maintain social distance and encouraged everyone to take the vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the emergency authorisation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday as the death toll in the US approaches 300,000.

The first trucks carrying the COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the US pulled out of a Pfitzer manufacturing plant in Michigan on Sunday, en route to 636 predetermined locations, amid a botched government response that has made the US the worst-hit country in the world.

With the winter holidays still ahead, experts warn that the pandemic could continue to get worse before the larger public receives the vaccination.

Operation Warp Speed chief advisor Dr Moncef Slaoui has said that they plan to have about 14 million doses of vaccine available and distributed in the US by the end of this year. Plans are on war footing to immunize 100 million people by February.

State and local authorities make their own decisions on who gets vaccinated and when. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the vaccine first.

Canada too administers first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Toronto: Canada too administered its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Five front-line workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto's hospitals.

Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker who worked throughout a COVID-19 outbreak at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, got the first dose in Ontario.

This is a victory day for science, said Dr Kevin Smith, president and CEO of Toronto's University Health Network. Here we are today breaking the back of this horrible virus.

More of Canada's initial 30,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to cross the border on Monday. The Canadian government recently amended its contract with Pfizer and BioNTech so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month.

"It was very emotional for me," said Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who witnessed the first vaccination in Quebec. I cried.

Hajdu said Canadians must keep protecting each other.

It's the first step. We have much work ahead of us. These are difficult times," she said.

Canada's health regulator approved the vaccine for use last week.

Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers and is currently reviewing three other vaccines, including one by Moderna that Canadian health officials said could be approved soon.

People in Britain and the United States are also starting to receive coronavirus vaccines.

The encouraging developments come as the coronavirus continues surging across much of the world.

(With inputs from PTI)

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