Speed Reads

Solving COVID

Britain begins COVID-19 vaccination drive with 90-year-old grandmother

The U.K. started immunizing its general population against COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, and the first person vaccinated in the campaign was Margaret Keenan, a grandmother who turns 91 next week. "I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19," Keenan said after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry. "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."

Britain last week became the first country to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, and hospital vaccination hubs started receiving their first doses Sunday. The U.K. is first vaccinating people 80 and older and nursing home workers. It has secured 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine so far — enough for 400,000 inoculations with the two-dose vaccine — and expects 4 million more doses by the end of the month. The British government has ordered more than 40 million doses of the vaccine, and most will be delivered next year.

"This really feels like the beginning of the end," said an emotional Stephen Powis, the national medical director of England’s National Health Service. "It's been really dreadful year, 2020 — all those things that we are so used to, meeting friends and family, going to the cinema, have been disrupted. We can get those back. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. But in the months to come."