WASHINGTON: US Vice President Mike Pence received a Covid-19 jab on live television on Friday as the country prepared to greenlight its second vaccine in a boost to the planet’s unprecedented immunisation campaign.
Pence’s move comes as inoculation efforts are unfurling around the world in the race to halt a pandemic that has claimed at least 1.66 million lives and infected more than 74 million people.
Yet in hard-hit Europe — which is yet to approve a vaccine — unease was mounting after Slovakia’s 47-year-old Prime Minister Igor Matovic tested positive Friday for Covid-19 a week after attending an EU summit in Brussels.
The summit is believed to be where French President Emmanuel Macron caught the virus, an announcement a day earlier that led a host of European leaders and top French officials to rush into self-isolation.
Elsewhere, world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are pledging to get public injections like Pence in order to boost faith in the jabs.
“Building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning,” Pence said after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTeh shot at the White House with his wife.
“I didn’t feel a thing.”
The event capped the US’s first week of a mass vaccination program with the Pfizer/BioNtech jab against a virus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans.
Another vaccine, made by Moderna, is now expected to become the second shot allowed in a Western country after a panel of US experts recommended emergency use approval.
President Donald Trump — notably absent from Pence’s vaccine event — has frequently downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19 throughout the pandemic.
But he has been eager to take credit for record-fast vaccine breakthroughs.
He sparked some confusion Friday by jumping the gun to declare Moderna approved, ahead of the final verdict from the Food and Drug Administration expected later in the day. “Distribution to start immediately,” Trump tweeted.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2020