William Shakespeare Becomes the World's Second Person to Get Approved Pfizer COVID Vaccine

The second person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination outside of a clinical trial is named William Shakespeare.

The resident of Warwickshire, in the West Midlands, U.K., was given the COVID shot at the University Hospital Coventry, immediately catching the attention of social media users as he shared his name with the famous English playwright.

An image of Shakespeare, 81, receiving the shot into his arm was posted to Twitter by BBC News Health Editor Hugh Pym, and has now been widely-circulated.

Shakespeare had the vaccine after a 90-year-old woman called Margaret Keenan, who was the first person to be given the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID jab as part of the U.K's mass vaccination program. Roughly 800,000 doses of the vaccine are due to be administered in the next few weeks.

Second patient to get the COVID jab at University Hospital Coventry - would you believe it....William Shakespeare from Warwickshire pic.twitter.com/y0LzxgbJ9w

— Hugh Pym (@BBCHughPym) December 8, 2020

Up to four million doses are expected to be distributed by the end of December, Saffron Cordery, the deputy CEO of NHS Providers, told broadcaster Sky News on Sunday. The shots will initially target the elderly alongside some health care professionals.

Keenan said: "I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19, it's the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year... if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too."

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News he felt "quite emotional" watching the footage of Keenan receiving the initial batch of the COVID vaccine.

"It's been such a tough year for so many people and finally we have our way through it, light at the end of the tunnel as so many people are saying," he said.

"It seems so simple having a jab in your arm but that will protect Margaret and it will protect the people around her, and if we manage to do that for everybody who is vulnerable to this disease then we can move on, and we can return to normal."

He stressed there was still an "enormous amount of work still to do" in terms of beating the virus, which has left the U.K. facing various degrees of local restrictions.

The U.K. has recorded more than 1.7 million cases and over 61,000 deaths linked to the infectious respiratory disease in total, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Monday the U.K. confirmed it logged 14,718 new cases and 189 new deaths.

The U.K government says it has secured a total of four different vaccines for its residents, including adenoviral vaccines from Oxford/AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccines whose development have been spearheaded by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

William Shakespeare
"Bill" William Shakespeare, 81, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK's history on December 8, 2020 in Coventry, United Kingdom. Jacob King - Pool/Getty