The rollout of the first 2.9 million doses of the jab, developed by the US drugmaker and German firm BioNTech, began across the US on Sunday, with the vaccine departing in trucks from Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
On Monday morning, Dr. Yves Duroseau of New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital and nurse Sandra Lindsay of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center were given the vaccine during a livestream with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
President Donald Trump quickly celebrated the occasion on Twitter, writing “Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!” The UK previously became the first country to use the vaccine.
The US leader has been critical of the FDA over what he deemed its sluggish response to approving the vaccine, and on Friday he called the regulator a “big, old, slow turtle.”
The UK was the first country to both approve and administer the Pfizer vaccine, which it did earlier this month, while Canada, Mexico, Bahrain, and Singapore have also given the jab the green light.
The start of the US vaccine program against Covid-19 comes as the country is set to pass 300,000 deaths related to the virus, while it has registered more than 16.2 million infections in total.
Alongside New York, hospitals in Minnesota, Texas, and Utah said they were set to receive their first doses of the jab on Monday, with some 636 vaccine-staging sites in line for the vaccine across the US.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit), meaning it must be transported in dry ice or super-cold freezers.
This is much colder than the required storage temperature for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is stable at between two and eight degrees Celsius, and which is now being rolled out and could be distributed to half the world’s population.
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