A couple of Indian origins will be among the first to get a vaccine for the coronavirus on Tuesday, when the United Kingdom begins its inoculation programme, the Hindustan Times reported.

Hari Shukla, an 87-year-old man from England’s Tyne and Wear metropolitan county, and his wife, 83-year-old Ranjan, would receive the first dose of the two-shot vaccine. The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, will be administered in two doses – each 21 days apart. The couple is among the over 80 year olds prioritised to receive the first of the eight lakh vaccines across 50 hospitals.

“I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine, I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can to help.” Shukla said. “I feel very comfortable and happy to be the first one”.

Shukla, who was born in Uganda, said he had been waiting for the vaccine for a long time. “Having been in contact with the NHS [National Health Service] staff, I know how hard they all work and I am grateful for everything they have done to keep us safe during the pandemic.”

The 87-year-old also lauded experts for their work to find a vaccine against the coronavirus. “I have been following the news and our scientists have done a wonderful job,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind they are the best in the world.”

90-year-old becomes first in world to receive Pfizer vaccine

Meanwhile, a 90-year-old woman on Tuesday became the first person in the world to receive a clinically authorised, and fully tested Pfizer coronavirus vaccine outside of a trial, Reuters reported.

Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said it was the “best early birthday present”. She was given the shot at a hospital in Coventry, in central England.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Keenan, a former jewellery shop assistant who retired four years ago. “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.”

On those being hesitant to take a shot, Keena said, “If I can have it at 90 then you can have it, too.”

Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital. [Credits: Jacob King/Reuters]

Queen Elizabeth, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, are also expected to be among the first to receive the vaccine. The vaccination programme is being widely publicised in the UK to overcome anti-vaccine anxieties among some people.

On the programme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a “huge step” fight against the coronavirus. “As the programme ramps up in the weeks and months ahead, it is as important as ever to keep to the Covid winter plan – following the rules in your area and remember the basics of hands, face and space,” he said.

The United Kingdom had on December 2 approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. The regulator’s chief Dr June Raine said that the vaccine has been approved because “strict tests have been done and complied with”. “Everyone can be absolutely confident that no corners whatsoever have been cut,” she added.

In November, Pfizer had announced a 95% efficacy in the phase three trials of the vaccine. “The safety of the vaccine is similar to other vaccines,” said Munir Pirmohamed, UK’s Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group chairperson. “Most of the side effects are very mild and usually last for a day or so.”

Meanwhile, the UK has so far reported 1,742,525 coronavirus cases and the toll stood at 61,531, according to the John Hopkins University data.