Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old woman from Northern Ireland, on Tuesday morning became the first patient in the world to receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
According to a press release by the National Health Service (NHS) England, Keenan was vaccinated by nurse May Parsons at 6.31 a.m. at her local hospital in Coventry, kicking off the U.K.’s largest-ever vaccination program. The move came after the U.K. last week became the first country in the Western world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine.
Speaking on Times Radio Breakfast Tuesday morning, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock doubled down on his earlier comments that Brexit allowed Britain to get the vaccine faster than the EU.
“I changed the law to make sure that we could authorize a vaccine ahead of leaving the end of the transition period in order to be able to do that outside of the European structures,” he said. “The EU has clubbed together and gone as a group in buying their vaccines and are moving at their pace. But we have been able to move more quickly because of that legal change.”
He also said the government wouldn’t force NHS workers to get vaccinated. “We are not in the position of mandating the vaccine, bec