It was an image that captured a historic moment: a 90-year-old woman from Coventry, rolling up the sleeves of her Christmas jumper featuring an extremely jolly penguin, exhibiting maximum chill as she officially received the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, at 6.45 a.m. on Tuesday.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Margaret Keenan said, about receiving the vaccine. "At the moment I don't know how I feel, just so strange and so wonderful really."
After receiving the vaccine, the former jewelry shop assistant — who only retired four years ago — was given a guard of honour by clapping nurses and doctors at her local hospital.
"Hopefully it'll help other people come along and do what I did, and try and do the best to get rid of this terrible thing,” Keenan added. She’ll turn 91 next week — and after a year spent mostly on her own, she’s excited to start seeing her family again in 2021.
"This is one of those moments that will go down in scientific and medical history."@ashishskynews reflects on the significance of the first #COVID19 vaccine being administered to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan.— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 8, 2020
Get the latest on #COVID19: https://t.co/W5Gk1IqLzXpic.twitter.com/UV1czMbitP
The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 2 — a jab that has been proven to be 95% effective against the virus.
People like Keenan, who are over the age of 80, will be the first to receive the vaccine, alongside health workers and care home residents. The first 800,000 doses are being rolled out right now, while millions more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
It’s poetry in motion for a world worn down by a year of isolation and suffering — all the more so, considering the second person to get the vaccine was one William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old also from Coventry.
It’s the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed in human history. The previous record was four years, held by the mumps vaccine developed in the 1960s, while most tend to take over a decade.
There’s two big reasons why it’s happened so quickly, without skipping any steps on safety. Firstly, there were no issues with funding. While most vaccines are held up by funding applications, billions have been poured into over 150 different COVID-19 vaccine projects worldwide.
Very fortunate to be the photographer in Coventry this morning...— Jacob King (@jacobkingphoto) December 8, 2020
Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons. pic.twitter.com/pHh1od8b58
And unlike ever before, the world truly came together. The genetic code for COVID-19 was shared by Chinese scientists in January, and on everything from manufacturing to testing, there have been unprecedented displays of global cooperation across the board.
After the first injection, it takes 12 days before immunity begins building. You get a second dose after 21 days before full immunity takes effect at 28 days. Nationwide restrictions will likely still stay in place for several months as the vaccine is slowly distributed and more doses are procured.
You can learn more about how vaccines are developed here. In the meantime, here’s how some people reacted to the jubilant news.
Well done Margaret Keenan! Well done science! Well done NHS! Well done everyone who worked on the Pfizer vaccine! Well done humans!— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) December 8, 2020
What a beautiful moment. pic.twitter.com/yQz9yvlJWD
90 year old Margaret Keenan, and William Shakespeare! The first two people to get the vaccine!! History makers! To be or not to be, there is no question 🥰😬👏 what a good day! Hoping for normality in the near future! ❤️ #COVID19Vaccine#vaccine#vaccineday@NHSEnglandpic.twitter.com/abfPafm6kb— Gavin Ramjaun (@GavinROfficial) December 8, 2020
👏Claps all round— Laura Tobin (@Lauratobin1) December 8, 2020
👏Maggie for being the first person in the World to get the #COVID19Vaccine
👏May the @NHSEngland nurse for giving the vaccine
👏👏👏To the amazing medical scientists & researchers for creating the vaccine
👏The NHS for their incredible hard work https://t.co/7ny8CsOM25