More than 600,000 people in Britain receive the first injection of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, World News

More than 600,000 people in the UK have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine since inoculations began in the country.

Earlier this month, the UK became the first country in the world to launch the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.

“The government today released data showing that the number of people who received the vaccine between 8 and 20 December in the UK is 616,933,” the Department of Health and Welfare said Thursday.

Britain has so far ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expects to receive millions of doses by the end of the year.

The vaccines have been administered to nursing home residents aged 80 and over and to health and social workers through over 500 vaccination sites.

A new variant of the coronavirus has spread rapidly in Britain recently, with huge areas of England subjected to its tougher COVID-19 restrictions.

The variant known as lineage B.1.1.7 can be up to 70% more contagious and of more concern to children. It has wreaked havoc in Britain, causing a wave of travel bans that are disrupting trade with Europe and threatening to further isolate the island country.