First person on planet to get Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine gets second dose

29 December 2020, 11:43 | Updated: 29 December 2020, 16:35

File photo. Margaret Keenan received her first dose of the vaccine on 8 December.
File photo. Margaret Keenan received her first dose of the vaccine on 8 December. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The first patient to be given a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has received her second dose today, meaning she should be immune from Covid-19 in the coming days.

Margaret Keenan, 91, became the first person to get the jab at 6.31am on 8 December, describing it as “the best early birthday present.

The grandmother was amongst the first to receive her second jab, with immunity coming seven days after the second dose.

Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are needed to reach 95 percent effectiveness, with each given 21 days apart.

Speaking on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said almost 800,000 people had been given their first dose of the two-stage vaccine.

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The rollout to care homes began in England on Wednesday 16 December, with jabs even given on Christmas Day, as the UK looks to ramp up the number of people immunised each week.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is also expected to be approved imminently by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, which can be transported more easily than the Pfizer jab, which must be stored at -70C.

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NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said there is a "chink of hope" in the various Covid-19 vaccines.

"We think that, by late spring, with vaccine supplies continuing to come on stream, we will have been able to offer all vulnerable people across this country Covid vaccination,” Sir Simon said.

"That perhaps provides the biggest chink of hope for the year ahead."

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Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), described the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a "game changer" but warned "herd immunity" through vaccination would not be likely until the summer.

It comes as hospitals struggle to cope with the surge in coronavirus patients, while trusts have been told to begin planning for the use of Nightingale hospitals.

But there are cries from staff that they do not have the numbers needed to staff the massive centres, despite the ever-increasing numbers of patients.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: "This very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions."

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Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said some trusts are reporting up to three times the number of Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave.

"This means hospitals and also ambulance services in Tier 4 areas and beyond are incredibly busy, compounded by increasing staff absences due to illness and the need to self-isolate," she said.

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