A UK grandmother has become the first person in the world to receive a clinically-approved Covid-19 vaccine.
Margaret Keenan, 90, received the jab at 6.31am in Coventry the first of several thousands inoculated at 70 NHS hospital hubs.
The Pfizer vaccine was given to the over-80s, NHS staff and care home workers as part of an historic rollout that could eventually see up to 54 million Brits offered a jab.
It came as peer-reviewed trial results confirmed a second jab by Oxford University works to prevent all serious disease – moving it a step closer to approval.
It came as the UK recorded a further 616 deaths on December 8 and 12,300 more positive cases.
Grandmother-of-four Maggie, who turns 91 next week, said: “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19.
“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. 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.”
When being wheeled back on to her ward, the former jewellery shop assistant who retired only four years ago was visibly emotional as nursing staff formed a guard of honour, cheering and applauding.
The UK is the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine and the first dose was administered by May Parsons, a nurse of 24 years, at Coventry’s University Hospital.
May, who has worked at the hospital for 17 years since arriving from the Philippines, said: “It’s a tremendous historic event.
“I’m so proud to be able to contribute to that and stopping this pandemic. The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s all a bit overwhelming.”
Vaccine hero Maggie has been self-isolating for most of this year and is planning on having a very small family ‘bubble’ Christmas to keep safe.
She will receive a booster jab in 21 days to ensure she has the best chance of being protected against the virus. She was described as a “super-gran” by her proud grandson. Conor Maton said the Strictly Come Dancing fan “jumped at the chance” to be the first person in the world to get the jab.
The 29-year-old said: “It’s a massive deal for the country and we’re so proud of her. The fact that she’s 91 next week will hopefully give other people confidence to have the jab. This is big news for the country and the whole world.
“She lives by herself and still goes to the shops and does odd jobs around the house. She’s very independent. She’s definitely a super gran – she’s always been a super-gran in our eyes.”
Margaret’s son Philip, a Cambridge University worker, described her as a “little person with a heart of gold”. He only learned his mother had made history when she called him in the morning after having the jab.
He said: “Mum called and said she was on the television. I asked her when and she replied: ‘Now!’ I was just totally shocked. Up until five or six days ago she was seriously ill – she spent two days in the intensive care unit.
“She had been short of breathe for several weeks but got worse and worse, although it wasn’t coronavirus. She still has high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate and both will need monitoring now, but she is doing well.
“She’s sprightly. Last year she was up a ladder painting and decorating in my home. When she comes to visit she goes out and about by herself – everybody knows her in the local cafes around here.
“She is determined to live beyond 100 and has done everything possible to protect herself. She’s a very sociable person and it has been hard for her to lose that contact with people during the pandemic. She has bubbled with my sister and her family in Coventry, but otherwise mum has not left her house since March.”
Coventry City fan Maggie was admitted to hospital several days ago after suffering breathing difficulties – but tested negative for Covid.
As she made quick recovery, medics offered her the chance to have the jab.
Margaret has two children – daughter Susan Maton, 57 and son Philip Keenan, 61. She also had four grandchildren – Conor, his brother Liam, 25, and their cousins Tom Keenan, 19, and Kevin Keenan, 16.
The pensioner moved from Northern Ireland to Coventry with her husband Philip in the 1950s. Philip died in 2007, and Margaret has lived alone in her semi-detached home in the Stoke area of the city ever since.
Her daughter lives five minutes away, while her son moved to Hertfordshire several years ago.
Conor added: “Gran decided to do this herself. She wanted to do it, there was no pressure. She wanted to do something good.
“We’re all in a bubble so we’ll spend Christmas as a family. It will be extra special this year that’s for sure.”
Analysis published in the Lancet shows the much anticipated Oxford jab also works at stopping symptoms in most cases and eradicated all cases of severe symptoms.
However it is likely to be less effective than the Pfizer jab because there are doubts that it is 90 per cent effective.
The Oxford vaccine being manufactured by AstraZeneca has been hit by concerns about its 90 per cent result after it emerged this dosing regime was only tested on participants aged under 55. This rate was based on a small subset of the main trial who were mistakenly given a half-sized first dose.
This 2,700 participants went on to achieve the best results while the main study group given two full doses only recorded 62 per cent effectiveness at eradicating symptoms. There are fears the doubts over which sized dose to give Brits could see approval delayed until the new year.
Full data released on trials conducted in the UK, Brazil and South Africa concluded that more research was needed to confirm the 90 per cent result. However even at 62 per cent effective the jab is likely to be good enough to be approved in Britain but make it worse than the Pfizer jab which recorded 94 per cent.
The Government has pre-ordered most of the Oxford jab with 100 million doses secured at a fraction of the cost of its rivals.
Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President at AstraZeneca, said: “I do believe that a vaccine with 62% efficacy, which is the minimum that we’ve shown here is a viable and effective vaccine. We have no cases of severe Covid, hospitalized Covid, or death in the vaccine arm [of the trial].
“So in terms of the impact that will have on healthcare systems and on populations at large. I think it’s a very important it’ll be a very important vaccine.”
The Pfizer jab has already been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the 54 million of the UK population aged 16 and over. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will then decide which age groups to offer it to as more trial data emerges.
A patient named William Shakespeare became the first man in the world to get the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry’s University Hospital. Bill Shakespeare, 81, from the city, is named after the famous playwright who was born nearby in Stratford-upon-Avon.
He said: “It’s ground-breaking I think. It could make a difference to our lives from now on, couldn’t it. It will be a precaution.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared to break down in tears as he was shown footage of Bill’s comments on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
He said: “Well you know, it’s been such a tough year for so many people. There’s William Shakespeare putting it so simply for everyone you know, we can get on with our lives. There’s still a few months to go, I’ve still got this worry you know. We can’t blow it now.”
Doses are being administered at 70 hospital hubs around the UK before being rolled out at GP-led clinics from next week.
A 99-year-old man received a warm round of applause as he received the first Coronavirus vaccine deployed at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth this morning.
While Anthony Moore, 82, from Sheffield said he was delighted to get the jab saying: “We haven’t been out of the house all year. It’s like winning the pools”.
Boris Johnson vowed Britain “will beat this together” as the first coronavirus vaccines were pumped into arms. The Prime Minister, who visited Guy’s Hospital in central London to meet some of the first patients inoculated, said the jabs would eventually make a “huge difference”.
The PM urged people not to be afraid of getting inoculated.
He said: “To all those who are scared – don’t be. You have seen people take the vaccine this morning in large numbers. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”
The Office for National Statistics found deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise with over 3,000 deaths registered in the week up to November 27. It was the twelfth week in a row the number of people dying with the virus listed on their death certificate has continued to grow.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “Today is a watershed moment in the fight against Covid-19 as the first vaccinations are administered. Whilst we start the first steps on the path to getting back to normality in due course, we need to remain vigilant not let our guard down as the vaccine is rolled out, but this is still a tremendous day of celebration.”