US, where over 300,000 died of coronavirus, starts vaccination drive
The biggest ever vaccination drive in the United States started on Monday, as health workers were given the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Sandra Lindsay, a nurse in New York — one of the worst-hit places in the country — became the first person to be inoculated. She was administered the vaccine developed by US-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. Here's more.
The coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China late last year, has taken more lives in the US than any other country. At the time of publishing, the death toll in the US stood at 308,089, and the number of infections at 16,942,822. In New York itself, more than 35,000 have died.
In fact, the handling of the pandemic drew immense criticism for outgoing President Donald Trump. In the initial days, he admitted in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward that the virus is "deadly stuff." "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one," he had told Woodward, earlier this year. Despite this, he downplayed the crisis.
After the vaccination drive started, Trump took to Twitter to congratulate the country. "First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!" the Republican tweeted. Earlier, he had revealed the White House staff would be getting the vaccine, at a later stage, "unless specifically necessary." "I am not scheduled to take the vaccine," Trump, who contracted the infection in October, tweeted.
People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
Shortly before the vaccine was given to Lindsay, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, "I believe this is the weapon that will end the war." Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City called it a historic moment. And Lindsay, who works at a Queens hospital, hoped that her public vaccination will instill confidence in others to follow suit.
"I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history," Lindsay said.
Besides New York, Americans, who are at a higher risk of contracting the fatal disease, also got inoculated. Doses were given in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being distributed in the US, as part of a public-private plan. Courier services like FedEx and UPS have deployed thousands of trucks to deliver the precious cargo to all 50 states.