WHEN the history of mankind’s fight against the dreaded coronavirus 2019 is written, a Filipino nurse will stand out for her continuing push to contribute to the effort. Nurse May Parsons will have the honor to a footnote all by herself: the first health worker to deliver the western world’s first COVID-19 vaccine to a 90-year-old British woman in December 2020, thereby showing the world that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
In a photo released by the British news platform Sky News, Parsons was shown injecting Margaret Keenan, a grandmother of four, with Pfizer/BioNTech-made vaccine, the first to be given to someone outside a clinical trial. Parsons has been working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) sector for the last 24 years and connected to the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire since 2003.
‘Parsons has been working in the UK’s National Health Service sector for the last 24 years and connected to the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire since 2003.’
In November, American drug maker Pfizer, together with its German partner BioNTech SE, released initial data on their vaccine showing that it has an efficacy rate of 90 percent. The British government authorized its use for mass inoculation last week, with the elderly getting the first shots.
The role of Filipino nurses, medical technologists, doctors and researchers in the fight against the scourge of COVID-19 is once again emphasized in this event. We have many nurses working in the National Health Service where their efforts, talents and sacrifices are well appreciated. This shows that President Duterte’s decision to allow their deployment in the UK, although in controlled numbers, is laudable.
Nigel Adams, minister of state for Asia at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said, “Great to see Matron May Parsons, originally from the Philippines, deliver the world’s first vaccine shot. Our NHS is proud to have such dedicated health worker.” British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce described as a “fantastic moment” the historic first anti-COVID-19 injection outside of clinical trials.
It was reported that the United States, which has been suffering from a 19 percent spike in COVID-19 infections, could soon follow with authorized immunization, as the US Food and Drug Administration panel of outside advisers will meet today to discuss whether to recommend emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine.
Outgoing President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to ensure that priority access for vaccines bought by the US government is given to the American people before assisting other nations.
These developments show the human experience of helping one another in fighting a common enemy and in preserving mankind itself: Chinese scientists providing the genome sequence of this particular type of coronavirus to the scientific community; British, German, American, Indian, Russian and other scientists fast-tracking the process of discovering a vaccine; Filipino nurses and doctors contributing their labor and research; and American drug companies handling distribution, marketing and storage.
Fighting this global public health problem is indeed an all-nation effort to achieve a shared future for mankind.