The mass vaccination program to protect people from the Covid-19 has started globally to combat the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.73 million people globally and infected 78 million people since late December last year.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to start administrating its citizens with a fully trialled and tested COVID-19 vaccine, soon followed by several other nations.
Here is a list of countries that have approved and started administrating the COVID vaccines to their populations:
On December 8, Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old British grandmother, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outside of a trial. But shortly after the vaccination programme was launched, the UK imposed tough lockdown measures after a new and more contagious strain of the coronavirus was found.
United Arab Emirates
The first jabs of the coronavirus vaccine to residents were administered in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, on December 14. The oil-rich Gulf state has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines for mass use.
The same day, the US also started administrating the Pfizer vaccine, with a critical care nurse in New York City, Sandra Lindsay, becoming the first American to receive it. The Pfizer-BioNTech has been administered to more than a million people since the programme began even as the US authorities have approved a second vaccine made by Moderna.
The first COVID-19 patient to be inoculated in Canada was an 89-year-old woman from Quebec who received the Pfizer vaccine on December 14. The North American country, along with neighbouring US, has also approved the Moderna vaccine for its mass immunisation programme. The first shipment of the Moderna shots arrived on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia, the worst-affected country on the Arabian Peninsula with more than 360,000 recorded cases, including 6,148 deaths, began its campaign with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 17.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a COVID-19 vaccine jab on December 19, kicking off a national roll-out. Netanyahu, 71, and his health minister were injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine live on TV at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.
Qatar launched a free coronavirus vaccination campaign after the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the Gulf state on December 22. The vaccine will be administered in two doses, three weeks apart at seven primary health centres across the country. Qatar has also signed deals to acquire Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
Mexico started its mass vaccination programme on December 24, with a nurse being the first to receive the jab in the country with one of the world’s highest COVID-19 death tolls. The televised launch came a day after the first 3,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived by a courier plane from Belgium.
The Balkan nation started its vaccine roll-out on December 24, with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic becoming the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Kuwait also began its coronavirus vaccination campaign on December 24. The country received the first 150,000 doses of the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
On December 24, Chile became the second Latin American nation after Mexico to start its inoculation programme. Zulema Riquelme, a 42-year-old nurse, got the first jab in the presence of President Sebastian Pinera.
The Russian government says it has been inoculating its citizens since September with its Sputnik V vaccine. On August 13, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the approval for use was given without the country completing its phase-three trial, raising questions from world health organisations and scientists.
Costa Rica received its first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses on Wednesday, and the country administered the first shot on Thursday to a wheelchair-bound, 91-year-old nursing home resident, Elizabeth Castillo.
“I am very grateful to God because I have asked so much of him. My life is very important to me, so take advantage of every moment,” Castillo said.
Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said the vaccinations “may be the beginning of the end of this pandemic”.