Margaret “Maggie” Keenan, who turns 91 next week, became the first person in the world to receive an authorized, fully-vetted coronavirus vaccine.
“It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for,” Keenan said after receiving the jab in Coventry, England, dressed in a festive “Merry Christmas” T-shirt. “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.”
The second patient to receive a shot was an 81-year-old man named William Shakespere (yes, you read that right).
Keenan and Shakespere were among a handful of people across Britain — those aged over 80, nursing home staff and health care workers — who were administered doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday morning, a a week after the UK leapfrogged the rest of Europe and the United States to become the first Western nation to approve it.
Other nations are not far behind the UK. The US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has scheduled a meeting of its vaccine advisory committee on Thursday to discuss Pfizer/BioNTech’s emergency authorization application. It will meet again on December 17 to consider the application for Moderna’s vaccine candidate.
Meanwhile, vaccination centers across Moscow started to distribute Russia’s Sputnik vaccine on Saturday, initially to groups such as teachers, health professionals, and municipal services workers, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered large-scale vaccination to begin across the country.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Does a Scotch egg count as a meal?
A: In case you’ve never had the pleasure: a Scotch egg is a boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Trump to sign order aimed at prioritizing Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Americans
White House officials described the order as a “reaffirmation of the President’s commitment to America first.” But on a call with reporters Monday evening, in which administration officials asked not to be identified publicly, the White House did not provide specifics on how the order will do that.
The US sees its deadliest Covid-19 week since April
Every Covid-19 metric has been on the rise. In the five days since December 2, the US has added more than a million new cases, bringing the total to more than 14.9 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The nation has also reported 15,658 deaths over the last seven days, making it the deadliest week for the coronavirus since April.
And for the sixth day in a row, more than 100,000 people are being treated for the virus in hospitals across the country.
While the US prepares for a wave of cases that may come from Christmas and Hanukkah on top of the potential Thanksgiving surge, officials are ramping up efforts to distribute the vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna.
Many Covid-19 patients in Venezuela prefer their chances at home
“There’s nothing in this hospital, not even scrubs,” said a senior medical worker who, like many others, spoke to us under the condition of anonymity over fears of government reprisals.
ON OUR RADAR
- Florida police raided the home of a former state coronavirus data scientist who has accused officials of trying to cover up the extent of the pandemic.
- Traditional Indian wedding finery gave way to hazmat suits and masks in a remote north Indian village, after the bride tested positive for Covid-19 just hours before the marriage, a local health official said.
- A man in Taiwan broke quarantine regulations for just eight seconds, and got slapped with a $3,500 fine.
- South Korea and Japan have called in the military to fight Covid-19. As winter looms, they aren’t taking any chances.
- The proportion of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants has reached a record high in Germany, according to official data from the country’s center for disease control.
Seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers will be among the first Americans vaccinated, following recommendations this week by a federal advisory panel. Older adults living at home will need to wait a while longer.
Many uncertainties remain. Among them: What side effects can older adults anticipate and how often will these occur? Will the vaccines offer meaningful protection to seniors who are frail or have multiple chronic illnesses?
“The actual injection felt, at first, just like a flu shot, which is basically just a little pinch in the side of your arm.” — Yasir Batalvi, a volunteer in Moderna’s vaccine trial