Updated: Dec 08, 2020 00:10 IST
By Poonam Joshi
London [UK], December 8 (ANI): After a wretched year of lockdowns and more than 61,000 deaths – the highest death toll in Europe, the United Kingdom on Tuesday will become the first country in the world to administer the new coronavirus vaccine developed jointly by the American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech in an inoculation programme watched closely around the world.
Hundreds of thousands of vials of the vaccine, manufactured at plants in Europe, were shipped through the Channel Tunnel over the weekend in special containers that keep the jabs at ultra-low temperatures.
It comes after the UK became the first country in the world to authorize emergency use of the vaccine, which is found to be 95 per cent effective.
Priority for the vaccine will initially be given to front-line staff on the National Health Service (NHS) and the over 80s before being rolled out to other segments of the public depending on age and vulnerability to contracting the virus.
Those who are vaccinated will be issued with a “vaccination passport” containing details such as date of vaccination and date of the first inoculation to remind people when to receive the second jab. The vaccine has to be administered twice. More than 40,000 volunteers were involved in the vaccine’s trials with only mild side effects being reported among the volunteers.
The immunization programme – dubbed “V-Day” by Health Minister Matt Hancock in reference to Europe’s triumph over Nazi Germany on “VE Day” in 1945 – will be rolled out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is being closely monitored by governments and public health officials around the world not to mention a sizeable anti-vaccination lobby around the world.
While the vaccine has been widely welcomed and is seen as a giant relief after months of death and uncertainty, there is scepticism about how successful it will be, particularly given the fact that vaccine was approved after trials lasting less than 10 months.
In normal circumstances, such vaccination would take a decade or more to develop, undergo trials and obtain regulatory approval.
Adding to the medical and scientific question marks is the significant and vocal minority of people who believe conspiracy theories about the virus being a hoax and the vaccine a programme instigated by a cabal of global capitalists to control society.
Numerous globally known figures – most notably several former US Presidents including George W Bush and Barack Obama – have offered to be vaccinated live on TV in the hope of dispelling people’s fears.
There had also been speculation that Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh – both of whom are well into their 90s – would be vaccinated live on TV.
However, that information has been dispelled by Buckingham Palace.
The Pfizer–BioNTech jab is one of several vaccines that will come on-stream in the coming weeks and months.
The most promising of them all is one being developed by the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University in the UK, which is currently going through the regulatory approval phase.
That COVID-19 vaccine holds perhaps the greatest promise for developing nations in South Asia and Latin America as it is the cheapest to produce and, more significantly, does not need to be stored and transported at the ultra-low temperatures that the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine needs to be.
This means that the injections can be shipped and distributed far more quickly and cheaply. (ANI)