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UK becomes first country to administer AstraZeneca vaccine

UK becomes first country to administer AstraZeneca vaccine
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British officials began administering AstraZeneca’s Oxford-developed coronavirus vaccine on Monday, the first country to do so.

The first dosage of the vaccine was given to Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old dialysis patient, Reuters reported. As with earlier vaccines, the elderly and most vulnerable are prioritized for the new shots.

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“I am so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford,” Pinker said, according to the news service.

The United Kingdom is reeling from both the sixth-highest death toll from the virus worldwide and a new, more infectious strain believed to have originated in southeast England.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that since vaccinations began on Dec. 8 with Pfizer’s shot, the country has inoculated more people than all others in Europe combined.

Six English hospitals are administering the initial 530,000 shots the U.K. has prepared, according to the news service, with the vaccination program set to expand in the days ahead and a target of tens of millions of vaccinations in the first months of 2021.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said 4.2 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine as of this weekend, with a total of 13 million doses distributed overall. Israel, meanwhile, has vaccinated more of its population than any other country, with more than 1 in 10 people inoculated, according to Reuters. Israel has a population of just under 9 million, compared to the U.K.’s 66.65 million and 328.2 million in the U.S.