United States Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence on Friday received a shot of Pfizer’s vaccine against the coronavirus in a televised appearance, AP reported. They are the highest-profile recipients in the country to be vaccinated publicly.
“I didn’t feel a thing, well done,” Pence told the technicians from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who administered his Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which has received emergency use authorisation and is being rolled out nationwide.
“The American people can be confident: we have one, and perhaps within hours, two, safe coronavirus vaccines for you and your family,” Pence later added, referring to the Food and Drug Administration’s expected authorisation of a second vaccine by Moderna. On Thursday an advisory panel of the drug regulator had approved the vaccine for emergency use.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had on Thursday said that they will get vaccinated in the next few days. President-elect Joe Biden expects to receive his shot as soon as next week. Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama have also volunteered for public inoculations, according to Reuters.
US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci also said he would get vaccinated as soon as he could and was waiting for doses to arrive at the National Institutes of Health. “I hope that’s going to be within the next few days,” Fauci said
The notable absence was outgoing President Donald Trump, who himself had made it clear he was not planning to take the vaccine imminently, citing the belief that his recovery from a brief but severe bout of Covid has given him immunity.
“He will receive the vaccine as soon as his medical team determines it’s best,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, according to AFP. “But his priority is frontline workers, those in long-term care facilities.”
The Pfizer vaccine, which has an efficacy of 95%, uses messenger mRNA technology to introduce the body to the spike protein found on the outside of the coronavirus to provoke an immune response. It requires two doses, administered three weeks apart.
The vaccine comes with complex distribution challenges as it must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius, requiring specialised ultra-cold freezers. Moderna’s vaccine, which showed 94.5% efficacy in final trials, employs the same technology but does not need to be stored at sub-Arctic temperatures.
The vaccine was rolled out to the public in United States on December 14, when a critical care nurse in New York became the first American to get a shot. The inoculation process, however, will take months.
United States is the worst-affected from the pandemic in the world. On Friday, the country’s toll surpassed the 3,00,000 mark, while the number of coronavirus cases rose to 1,72,06,647, according to John Hopkins University data.