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UK's William Shakespeare, 81, first man to get approved COVID vaccine, dies of unrelated illness
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UK's William Shakespeare, 81, first man to get approved COVID vaccine, dies of unrelated illness

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A British retiree named William Shakespeare was one of the first people in Britain to receive the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. Many puns followed on social media.

The first man in the world to receive a clinically approved COVID-19 vaccine has died of an unrelated illness, British officials said.

The 81-year-old Englishman, named William Shakespeare, was the first man and second person to get a Pfizer jab after the U.K. approved the experimental shots in early December. The first person was 90-year-old British grandmother Margaret Keenan.

Shakespeare died Thursday, but the cause of death was not immediately known, according to the BBC. The Coventry resident had reportedly worked at Rolls Royce and served as a parish councilor for many years.

He made international headlines after getting inoculated at University Hospital Coventry, a major milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, 81, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry, United Kingdom, on Dec. 8, 2020. Shakespeare, the first man in the world to get an approved COVID vaccine, has died at age 81 of an unrelated illness.

His name helped draw even more attention — and jokes — to that special moment.

Some on social media referred to the scene as "The Taming of the Flu," a reference to playwright William Shakespeare's 16th-century work "The Taming of the Shrew."

The vaccinated Shakespeare was also an active supporter of the local Labour Party, according to multiple Twitter posts.

"We're sorry to hear of the death of Coventry Labour stalwart Bill Shakespeare," West Midlands Labour officials tweeted.

"Bill will be remembered for many things, including a taste for mischief," said Coventry council member Jayne Innes, who described Shakespeare as an "international sensation."

He is survived by his wife, Joy, their two sons and several grandchildren, the BBC reported.

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