London: The UK will start mass vaccination for Covid-19 on Tuesday, followed by the US as soon as Friday. Russia started vaccination of front-line workers and other high-risk people in Moscow on Saturday while China too has reportedly geared up for rollout of its domestically made Covid vaccine.

Final checks were taking place on Sunday on the deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech before its rollout to hospitals across the UK in super-cold containers.

Around 800,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to be in place for the start of the immunisation programme on Tuesday, which will be the country’s biggest ever and which is being closely watched all around the world.

British health secretary Matt Hancock has reportedly dubbed Tuesday as “V-Day,” a nod to triumphs in World War II.

“Despite the huge complexities, hospitals will kickstart the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history from Tuesday,” said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director. “The first tranche of vaccine deliveries will be landing at hospitals by Monday in readiness.”

Last week the UK became the first country to authorise the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for emergency use. In trials, the vaccine was shown to have around 95% efficacy. Vaccinations will be administered starting Tuesday at around 50 hospital hubs in England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also begin their vaccination rollouts the same day. Governments and health agencies around the world will be monitoring the British vaccination programme, which will take months, to note its successes and failures and adjust their own plans accordingly. The US hopes to start vaccinations later this month.

The excitement in Britain, which has Europe’s highest virus-related death toll at more than 61,000, was palpable.

Patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospitals as outpatients and those being discharged after a stay in the hospital will be among the first to receive the jab. Hospitals will also start inviting over 80s in for a vaccine shot and will work with nursing homes to book staff into vaccination clinics.

Any appointments not taken up will be offered to those health workers deemed to be at the highest risk of Covid-19. Everyone who is vaccinated will need a booster jab 21days later. The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which can cover 20 million people.

(With inputs from agency)