The UK's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip will not get preferential treatment, but will instead "wait in line" during the first wave of the Covid-19 vaccines reserved for the over-80s and care home residents, a media report said citing sources.
The Daily Mail report on Saturday came after the UK on December 2 approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on independent advice of its medicines regulator. The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.
Care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable will receive the vaccine on priority basis. Operation Courageous, the country's biggest ever mass vaccination program, will swing into action on Tuesday with most of the 50 hospitals that have received the vaccine by then giving injections.
The sources told the Daily Mail that the Queen, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, will be eligible for the vaccine within weeks and "have already accepted the offer on the advice of their doctors".
"Public health experts believe that if the couple go public about the jab, it could go a long way to combating misinformation spread by conspiracy theorists which, it is feared, could lead to a substantial proportion of the population refusing the vaccine," the newspaper report said.
Politicizing the Royal Family
According to the Daily Mail, discussions were also underway about the potential roles that could be played by Prince Charles and Prince William in publicizing the vaccination program. But courtiers are concerned that doing so might be seen as "politicizing" the family, as well as amounting to an invasion of their medical privacy.
The younger royals, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, won't be in line for the jab until later in 2021 when it is expected people in their thirties will begin being vaccinated. While Downing Street has declined to comment on whether the Queen would be receiving a vaccine, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said on Saturday night: "Medical decisions are personal and this is not something we will comment on."
The news report comes as an additional 15,539 people in the UK tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, increasing the country's overall caseload to 1,710,379, according to official figures. The death toll in rose by 397 to 61,111.