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From Pope Francis to Joe Biden: A list of world leaders who have received COVID-19 vaccine

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Jan 14, 2021 11:52 pm

More and more countries have started their COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, and the number of world leaders who have received the COVID-19 vaccine is also rising. Most of them get the jab to send a message to their citizens that the vaccines are safe, and to provide a symbol to start easing into a new beginning and starting up the much-depleted economies and overwhelmed health systems as a result of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he was eager to be the first to be immunized once the vaccine is ready for use. But during his Monday briefing, he said that Cabinet officials would be last to get the vaccine and he is ready to be among the last in the country to get vaccinated to give way to those in need, especially the poor and the frontline workers.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 authorization for emergency use, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the country. The FDA also said that Sinovac has submitted its emergency use authorization application.

With this development, vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the country is eyeing to start the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by the end of February once the vaccines arrive.

As countries around the world continue their vaccine campaigns, let’s have a look at the leaders who have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo from AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 19. He is reportedly the first Israeli citizen and one of the first world leaders to receive the vaccine.

The 71-year-old Prime Minister received the second dose of the vaccine on Jan. 10.

The Israeli government said it has secured sufficient doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna for the country’s nine million people and has started vaccinating the population on Dec. 20, 2020. Prior to the vaccinations, polls showed that many Israelis are hesitant to receive get the shots right away.

As of Jan. 10, one in five Israelis has received the first dose of the vaccine, which is 10 times higher than the rate in the UK and the US.

“I asked to be vaccinated first, together with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, to serve as personal examples and encourage you to be vaccinated,” Netanyahu said after he received his first dose of the vaccine. He is also positive that Israel would be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus.

Israel, which currently has 520,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,800 deaths, targets to vaccinate all eligible age groups within two months.

US President-elect Joe Biden

President-elect Joe Biden gets his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Newark, Delaware. Photo from

Over a month after winning the US Presidential election, President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 21, 2020, which was broadcast live to reassure the public about its safety.

After getting the vaccine, Biden thanked the scientists and researchers “who worked tirelessly to make this possible—thank you. We owe you a lot.” He also urged Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccines once available.

In a live event on Jan. 11, Biden, 78, received his second dose of the vaccine in Newark, Delaware.

Currently, according to Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are two COVID-19 vaccines that are in circulation in the US—Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Biden, who is set to be sworn in office on Jan. 20, said the incoming administration promises to distribute 100 million vaccinations in its first 100 days in office.

The US started the vaccine rollout on Jan. 4 and as of Jan. 11, nearly nine million Americans have been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC recommended that healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be offered the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the Phase 1b are frontline essential workers and people aged 75 years and older; and in Phase 1c are people aged 65 to 74 years old, people aged 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, and other essential workers.

As of this writing, the United States has the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world at 23 million, with 380,000 deaths.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Screenshot from VOA News

The 35-year-old de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, received the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 25, almost a month after Saudi Arabia received first shipments of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

At the start of December 2020, citizens and residents were asked to register online to receive the vaccine, which authorities said is free to all in the country.

Saudi Arabia began inoculating itscitizens on Dec. 17 and became the first Arab country to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccination priority is given to those aged over 65, people at high risk of infection due to their jobs and those suffering from obesity, chronic diseases or immune deficiency.

The Saudi Health Ministry, which recently reported that more than 178,000 of the Kingdom’s residents have received a COVID-19 jab, said that it aims to provide the vaccine to all and build herd immunity in Saudi Arabia.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong. Photo from The Straits Times

Singapore was the first in Asia to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which were delivered on Dec. 21, 2020. The country kicked off its vaccination drive on Dec. 30, 2020, starting with frontline workers.

Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong got inoculated on Jan. 8 and will return after three weeks for the second dose.

“It’s painless, it’s effective and it’s important,” said Lee, who urged Singapore residents to get the vaccine when it is available to them.

Many Singaporeans believe their government response to the COVID-19 pandemic was successful but many are also reluctant to be the first ones to get the jab, such outlook was mainly pointed to widespread misinformation on social media and chat groups.

Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine currently available in Singapore but Moderna and Sinovac are expected to arrive in the next few months.

The country is ramping up its vaccine rollout, with more than 6,200 already had their first dose of the vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents but those who wish to get vaccinated will not get to choose the vaccine they want, according to The Straits Times.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been isolating in Windsor Castle for most of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo from The Royal Family Facebook page 

The Buckingham Palace said in a statement that Queen Elizabeth, 94, and her husband, Prince Philip, 99, have received COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccinations were reportedly administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, where the nonagenarian royals have been isolating for most of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not known yet which vaccine they have received but the UK has already approved Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and recently Moderna.

The United Kingdom is the first country to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020.

Upon its initial rollout, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were expected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which, according to Royal aids,  was a personal decision and a private matter but the Queen wanted it be known once she has received the vaccine to prevent inaccuracies and further speculations.

At least 1.5 million people in the UK have been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People aged over 80 are among the priority groups.

As of this writing, the UK is under a national lockdown as infections, hospital admissions and case rates are on the rise, which was attributed to the new variant of COVID-19 that scientists confirmed are more transmissible.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo from AP

At the first phase of Indonesia’s vaccine rollout on Jan. 13, President Joko Widodo received the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, which was broadcast live on national TV.

After the 59-year-old President was vaccinated with Sinovac (which was cleared as halal by the Indonesian Ulema Council, which means it is acceptable for use under Islamic law), top military, police, and medical officials reportedly received the shots, too.

One of the first people who got the COVID-19 shot were social media influencers, which drew criticism. But the Health Ministry said the move was a deliberate government communications strategy to “hopefully convey positive influence and messages” about the vaccines, especially to the youth.

Indonesia received its first shipment of Sinovac on Dec. 6, 2020 and is said to be preparing to vaccinate 180 million people in 15 months. This week, officials said that healthcare workers, civil servants and other at-risk populations are priorities to be vaccinated and vaccines will be free for all Indonesian citizens.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis.

As part of the COVID-19 vaccination program of the Vatican, Pope Francis, 84, received the first dose of the vaccine. His predecessor, 93-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict, has also been inoculated.

It was not specified in the statement released by the Holy See Press Office when they got the jab and which COVID-19 vaccine they got. But it is believed that they both received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, after the Vatican’s health service announced in December that it’s what they’ll use for the vaccine rollout.

In an interview on Italian television this week, Pope Francis said, “I believe that everyone should receive the vaccine; it is an ethical option because your health, your life is at stake and also you are putting at stake the life of others.”

The world’s smallest sovereign state, which is home to less than 1,000 residents, will give priority to health and public safety personnel, the elderly and the staff with frequent contact to the public.