Having a coronavirus vaccine ready less than a year after treating the first patient with COVID-19 has been a “remarkable” achievement said a British doctor on Tuesday (December 8). The country began mass vaccinating its people in a global drive that poses one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history.
“This is the most incredible. It has been the fastest, most remarkable piece of work,” said Dr Nikita Kanani, a medical director for primary care at NHS England as COVID-19 vaccinations began, adding that she felt emotional.
Health workers started inoculating the most vulnerable with the vaccine 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).
In Newcastle, married couple Hari and Ranjan Shukla were among the first to receive their vaccinations. “I feel happy that I’ve been able to contribute a little,” said Hari as he and Ranjan posed for photographs after getting their jabs, wearing stickers to show they had been vaccinated.
The launch of the vaccine, one of three shots that have reported successful results from large trials, 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.
Britain, the worst-hit in Europe with over 61,000 deaths, is the first Western nation to begin mass-vaccinations and the first globally to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.