British Queen to get COVID vaccine soon as US sees record surge in cases

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will get a vaccine within weeks, according to reports in the United Kingdom (UK), as the United States (US) notched a record number of coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the third day running.

It was reported that the 94-year-old monarch will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine within weeks after UK regulators granted emergency approval. The rollout of the vaccine will begin next week.

The queen and her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip are in line to get the jab early due to their age and will not receive preferential treatment, the Mail reported yesterday.

The newspaper said Britain’s most senior royals would reveal they have been given the inoculation “to encourage more people to take up the vital jab”, amid fears so-called anti-vaxxers could dent enthusiasm for it.

British health officials are set to use criteria based on age and vulnerability to decide who gets the vaccine first.

Elderly care home residents and their carers will be the very first to get inoculated, followed by those aged 80 and over and frontline health and care staff.

Britain has pre-ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine in total, and is set to receive an initial batch of 800,000 to begin next week’s rollout.

In the US, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed the world’s worst-hit country – which has seen a dramatic virus resurgence in recent weeks – reached nearly 230,000 new infections and 2,527 COVID-related deaths on Saturday alone.

For two weeks, the US has regularly topped 2,000 deaths per day, as it had in the spring at the height of the first wave of the country’s outbreak.

US health officials warned of a surge after millions of Americans travelled to celebrate last week’s Thanksgiving holiday despite pleas from authorities to stay home.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that vaccines are no magic bullet for the coronavirus crisis, as Russia started vaccinating its high-risk workers and other countries geared up for similar programmes.

The WHO cautioned against what it said was an erroneous belief that the pandemic would end soon with vaccines on the horizon.

“Vaccines do not equal zero COVID,” said WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan, adding that not everyone will be able to receive it early next year.

“Vaccination will add a major, powerful tool to the tool kit that we have. But by themselves, they will not do the job.”