fbpx

EU Nations Start COVID-19 Vaccination Program

The EU is launching a coordinated vaccine rollout to fight Covid-19, in what the bloc’s top official says is a “touching moment of unity”. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been delivered to all 27 member states. Some countries started administering the jabs on Saturday, saying they were not prepared to wait another day. The EU has so far reported more than 335,000 Covid-related deaths. More than 14 million people have been infected, and strict lockdown measures are currently in place in nearly all the member states.

The vaccine rollout comes as cases of the more contagious variant of Covid-19 are confirmed in several European nations as well as Canada and Japan. Mass vaccination across the EU – a bloc of 446 million people – began early on Sunday. This comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission authorised the German-US Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The EU has secured up to 300 million doses through an Advance Purchase Agreement and expects for the first 200 million doses to have been delivered by September 2021. But it has also struck similar deals with other pharmaceutical companies including Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, CureVac, and Moderna. These contracts mean the bloc “has secured enough doses of vaccines for our whole population of 450 million people,” von der Leyen said in her video. The EMA is expected to decide whether to approve the Moderna vaccine on January 6.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries. Vaccination will begin tomorrow across the EU,” Ms von der Leyen tweeted on Saturday. “The EU vaccination days are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic,” she added. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday: “This really is a happy Christmas message. At this moment, lorries with the first vaccines are on the road all over Europe, all over Germany, in all federal states. Further deliveries will follow the day after tomorrow. “This vaccine is the crucial key for defeating the pandemic. It’s the key for us getting back our lives.”

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio urged his compatriots to get the jabs. “We’ll get our freedom back, we’ll be able to embrace again,” he said. Health workers in north-east Germany decided not to wait for Sunday and started immunising elderly residents of a nursing home in Halberstadt. In Hungary, the first recipient of the vaccine was a doctor at Del-Pest Central Hospital on Saturday, the state news agency says. The authorities in Slovakia also said they had begun vaccinating.

It is unclear why both eastern countries started their vaccination campaign a day earlier than the European Commission’s coordinated roll-out planned for. In France, where many questions the safety of vaccines, the French government has been cautious in its messaging and keen to ensure that it is not seen as forcing vaccinations on the public. France’s first vaccination at a nursing home in a poor area outside of Paris on Sunday was not broadcast on live television as it was elsewhere in Europe and no government ministers attended.

“We didn’t need to convince her. She said ‘yes, I’m ready for anything to avoid getting this disease,'” said Dr Samir Tine, head of geriatric services for the Sevran nursing home where France’s first vaccine dose went to 78-year-old Mauricette. “It’s an important day,” Tine said. “We are very eager to have a new weapon at our disposal and we are very eager to rediscover our normal lives”.

By Jumana Jabeer

Related Posts

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.