On Monday, as the United States began the long-awaited rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to frontline healthcare workers across states, a Kenyan-born and trained doctor made history as one of the first recipients of the vaccine.
Dr Stella Ogake, received the vaccine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre in Colombus, Ohio, the same facility where she works as a pulmonologist and professor.
In an interview with CNN, Ogake expressed excitement at receiving the Pfizer vaccine, stating that her experience of getting inoculated with the vaccine had been smooth.
“I feel great. I just got the vaccine, it was not painful at all. I do not know how I am going to feel in the next few hours, but I feel good,” said Ogake.
The doctor expressed optimism at receiving the Pfizer vaccine, describing the beginning of vaccinations in the US as a moment of hope that signals the beginning of the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid 19 Time Series
“I would say that this is a very exciting moment. It is very surreal as well, but for us who are in the frontlines taking care of these patients, it is such a moment of hope because we can see the light. We can see the end of this pandemic. It is the beginning of the end,” Ogake said.
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The doctor studied at the Moi Girls’ High School, Eldoret, before joining Moi University College of Health Sciences for a degree in medicine between 2002 and 2008. Ogake worked at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi briefly before relocating to the US.
In another interview with the Ohio student newspaper The Lantern, Ogake revealed that her work, which is mainly centered in the Intensive Care Unit, had becoming overwhelming.
“I like to work in the ICU, I like spending time in the ICU, but with Covid-19 it becomes very overwhelming, with all the number of patients we see and the fact that we see these really sick people, worrying that we are going to take it home to our families,” Ogake said.
The US has been one of the countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 16,942,980 infected by yesterday, and more than 300,000 deaths.
In its first vaccine roll-out, the country has prioritised healthcare workers at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19, such as Ogake.
An analysis by The Global Justice Now showed that more than 80 per cent of the current doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been purchased by the world’s wealthiest governments, including the United Kingdom and several European Union countries.
Studies have shown that the Pfizer vaccine is 95 per cent effective in protecting against Covid-19 infections.
The vaccine is produced jointly by American company Pfizer Inc. and German firm BioNTech. “Based on current projections we expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021,” the companies announced in November.