On Tuesday, Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. Next in line, naturally, was William Shakespeare. A Warwickshire resident, who is named after England’s most famous writer, poet and playwright, Shakespeare said he was “pleased” to be inoculated.
The 81-year-old thanked the staff at University Hospital in Coventry, in central England, just 20 miles north of where the renowned playwright was born in 1564, who he said had been “wonderful.” The vaccine is given in two doses, 21 days apart, with the second dose being a booster. Immunity begins after the first dose but reaches full effect seven days after the second dose.
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The UK is currently undertaking the largest vaccination campaign in its history. After Shakespeare received his shot, he began trending on Twitter with many adding to the list of the puns based on the author’s works, including, “The Taming of the Flu” and “The Gentlemen of Corona.” Another Twitter user asked if the first person to get the shot was Patient 1A, “would William Shakespeare be 2B, or not 2B?”
Shakespeare has been hospitalized for several weeks after suffering a stroke. On Tuesday, after receiving his shot, he felt fatigued and took a nap, according to his niece, Emily Shakespeare. “He’s delighted with it,” she said. “He’s dying to come home. He is fed up being in the hospital, but today, I just want to say that I’m proud that he’s leading the way.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 60,000 people have died in the UK and more than 1.5 million people worldwide as a result of COVID-19 complications. The UK hopes to continue vaccinating 11,000 people per day. Hospitals have been given trays of 975 doses each, which must be stored in deep freezers, defrosted and immediately administered. Defrosted doses not given by Friday would be unusable.
In the US, the FDA said on Tuesday that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being given in the UK, provided strong protection against Covid-19 within about 10 days after the first dose, sooner than had been believed.
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