KEY POINTS

  • The first batch of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine has landed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
  • US officials would likely start distributing the vaccine within 24 hours of approval from the FDA
  • The UK government has ordered more than 350 million vaccine doses from various drugmakers

A charter flight carrying the first batch of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine has landed in the U.S. from Belgium, according to authorities. 

The United Airlines flight arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this week, but it's unclear when the shipment showed up or how many doses were brought, NBC News reported. 

The flight is the beginning of a "mass air shipment" of a coronavirus vaccine as authorities prepare for distribution once Pfizer's vaccine receives authorization, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday confirmed that shipments had come from Europe. However, officials refused to provide details about where the vaccines are being stored. 

"Operation Warp Speed leaders are aware of and facilitating vaccine shipments coming to the U.S. from Belgium. In an effort to minimize the potential risk to delivery and distribution, we are unable to provide specific details regarding where vaccines are produced and stored," the statement read. 

Pfizer has a distribution site in Wisconsin and other states across the country where the vaccine can be stored in preparation for quick distribution, USA Today reported.

Operation Warp Speed reported it would deliver the first doses of the vaccine in the U.S. within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency-use approval. The initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would likely go to those who are at high risk of contracting the virus, such as front-line health care workers and senior citizens, including nursing home residents, according to federal health officials. 

Britain also is set to receive its first doses of coronavirus vaccines next week. The U.K government has ordered 350 million vaccine doses from seven different drugmakers, including 7 million from Moderna, 40 million from Pfizer and BioNTech, and 100 million from Oxford and AstraZeneca. 

The U.K is preparing to launch its most ambitious inoculation program after the novel coronavirus caused the death of more than 58,000 people, according to Fox News

Hospitals in England are likely to receive the first doses of Pfizer's vaccine the week of Dec. 7, if it gets approval from the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 

Several vaccines are already seeking approval for emergency use and some governments plan to start jabs this year Several vaccines are already seeking approval for emergency use and some governments plan to start jabs this year Photo: AFP / JOEL SAGET