Yesterday, Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive a fully tested and approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Keenan was prioritized by health systems on account of her advanced age. She turns 91 next week.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” Keenan said. “It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because 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 UK reportedly purchased 40 million doses of the two-dose vaccine in the hopes of inoculating 20 million people in 2021.
The National Health Service (NHS) has already begun administering some of these to patients outside of clinical trials. It’s second, a man named William Shakespeare is among the 4 million that the agency plans on vaccinating by the end of the month.
In order to ensure a successful defense against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), subjects will need to receive two shots at varying intervals. The available data suggests that these doses evidence a 95% efficacy rate.
Pfizer Chairman and CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla said that the new vaccine may be the most significant medical advances of the last 100 years.
“This marks the start of the NHS’’s herculean task to deploy vaccines right across the UK, in line with its founding mission, to support people according to clinical need, not ability to pay,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock added on Tuesday morning. “And while today is a day to celebrate, there is much work to be done. We must all play our part in suppressing the virus until the vaccine can make us safe, and we can all play our part in supporting the NHS to deliver the vaccine across the country.”
Despite academic and economic confidence in all of the vaccine candidates that have passed their clinical trials, there is an understandable hesitance on behalf of the general public—especially in the US.
These concerns appear to be premised by the purported side effects documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conspiratorial theories regarding those who expedited the vaccine trial process, namely Operation Warp Speed and a stable of celebrity donors including Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.
The federal government will supply $1.95 billion for production and delivery costs for the first 100 million doses that receive emergency approval.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intends to grant emergency authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine sometime next week. This news came after a review of updated safety data. All attestations confirm the most optimistic projections offered by vaccinologists.
Still, there are sober reasons to be anxious about receiving a dose; the public simply has to decide provisional discomfort is a fair outlay for a return to normal.
Research from a CDC advisory panel indicates that Pfizer’s vaccine can induce symptoms similar to a hangover in some and mild-COVID-19 in others.
More specifically, trial samples have reported high fever, body aches, intense headaches, and exhaustion. For the majority of patients, these symptoms subside after a day.
“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Dr. Sandra Adamson Fryhofer explained during a virtual meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”
Given the coronavirus’s erratic pathology, medical experts understand that encouraging enough populations to receive the vaccine to meaningfully suppress the COVID-19 pandemic to be quite a challenge.
“I would still like to see all of the actual data, but what we’ve seen so far is absolutely remarkable,” says Paul Offit, a vaccine researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who is a member of an independent committee of vaccine experts that advises FDA.
The speed at which Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer produced effective candidates has also caused alarm.
Each had the misfortune of conducting trials during electorally convenient windows.
It’s important to remember that vaccine research’s pace was co-authored by the depth of COVID-19’s destruction and new mRNA technology, which facilitated the process by which cells make proteins and send them to various parts of the body,
Early last week, Moderna announced that only 11 people of the 30,000 people featured in their efficacy trial who received two doses of their vaccine candidate, developed COVID-19 symptoms compared to the 185 symptomatic cases reported in a placebo group. No one in the vaccine group developed severe manifestations of COVID-19. The results were not impacted by ethnicity or gender.
Health care professionals, essential workers, long-term care facility residents, and staff, national security populations, seniors, Native Americans, the incarcerated, and people from racial and ethnic minority populations will be the first to receive the vaccine in the US.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the coronavirus task force, predicts that the general public probably won’t have access to a vaccine until April, May, or June of 2021.