Vial from first US COVID-19 vaccine dose goes to museum

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Items connected to the first known doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in the United States have been acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the institution has announced.

New York-based health care provider Northwell Health – whose nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first person to be inoculated in the country hardest hit by the coronavirus – donated the items, the Smithsonian announced.

The empty vial containing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine given to Lindsay, other vials, syringes and the nurse’s vaccination record card are among the objects donated, the Smithsonian said in a statement Tuesday.

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“These now historic artifacts document not only this remarkable scientific progress but represent the hope offered to millions living through the cascading crises brought on by COVID-19,” museum director Anthea Hartig said.

The United States has seen the most Covid-19 deaths – more than 527,000 – and the most cases in the world at more than 29 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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The vaccine-related objects will be part of a collection that the museum began to assemble in April 2020, shortly after the pandemic took hold in the United States. Other museums around the world have launched similar initiatives.

The institutions hope to document not only the scientific, political and economic ramifications of the pandemic, but also how it was handled around the globe in terms of pop culture and the working world.

The National Museum of American History is part of the massive Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex which is a public-private partnership.

The museum has launched a national appeal for ideas about other pandemic-related items it could preserve, asking the public to share their experiences on a dedicated website that could be turned into a digital time capsule.

The museum intends to put some of the objects on public display in a major exhibition, “In Sickness and in Health,” but did not indicate when that show would be organized.

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