A nurse has become the first American to publicly receive the coronavirus vaccine as the US death toll from the pandemic topped 300,000
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical case nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting her shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre in New York on Monday (local time).
“I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time.”
Health workers in select hospitals rolled up their sleeves for shots on Monday after the US Food and Drug Administration authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for emergency use, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention allowed it to be given to people 16 and older.
Shipments of precious frozen vials of vaccine began arriving at hospitals across the US on Monday. It came as data from Johns Hopkins University confirmed the grim milestone in fatalities and amid an unprecedented acceleration of new infections ahead of the US winter.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said as he watched Ms Lindsay’s vaccination via video.
Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said the rollout was proceeding across the US.
“We expect 145 sites across all the states to receive vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, which will complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer orders for vaccine,” he said.
Canada has also started rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, with five front-line workers in Ontario among the first Canadians to receive it at a Toronto hospitals on Monday.
Two nurses and three other workers at the Rekai Centre nursing home received the vaccine.
“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 his horrible virus.”
Anita Quidangen, a worker at a long-term home, received the first shot in Ontario.
Ontario received 6000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday night and plans to give them to approximately 2500 health-care workers.
Residents of two long-term care homes in Quebec will be the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in that province.
Several other countries also have approved the jab, including the UK which started vaccinating last week.
The vaccine developments come as the coronavirus continues surging across much of the world.
More than 71.52 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,613,549 have died.
The WHO said on Monday it was aware of a new variant of COVID-19 that has emerged in Britain but there was no evidence the strain behaved differently to existing types of the virus.
“We are aware of this genetic variant reported in 1000 individuals in England,” the WHO’s top emergencies expert Mike Ryan said in Geneva.
“Authorities are looking at its significance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time.”
British authorities said London will be placed in the toughest tier of restrictions from Wednesday morning following a sharp rise in coronavirus infection rates.