By VANESSA GERA, The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Hungarian doctors and health care workers on Saturday began vaccination with one of the continent’s first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the EU’s plans for a coordinated rollout of the first shots from 27 countries disturbed. Blow on Sunday.
The first consignment of the vaccine arrived in EU hospitals in super-cold containers on Friday and Saturday morning after being shipped from a Belgian manufacturing center before Christmas.
It was not clear why Hungarian authorities began their vaccinations the day before. Officials in Slovakia also announced that they planned to begin administering their first dose on Saturday evening.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen released a video celebrating the vaccine rollout, calling it “a touch of unity”.
“Today, we start turning the page into a difficult year. The COVID-19 vaccine has been delivered to all European Union countries. Immunization will begin across the EU tomorrow, ”she said.
The rollout is a moment of hope for a region that includes some of the world’s oldest and most hit virus hot spots – Italy and Spain – and others, such as the Czech Republic, which are spared quickly to see only their health care systems Was the point in decline.
In total, 27 countries in the European Union have seen at least 16 million coronovirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths. The vaccine rollout will help the Block Project’s unity in complex life missions after a year of difficulties negotiating a trade deal with Britain after Brexit. It is also a sigh of relief for EU politicians, who were disappointed after Britain, Canada and the United States launched a vaccination program earlier this month.
“This is good news over Christmas,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference on Saturday. This vaccine is decisive to end the epidemic. “
“This is the key to bringing our lives back,” Spahn said.
While the first shipment is limited to just under 10,000 doses in most countries, the mass vaccination program is expected to begin only in January. Each country is deciding on its own who will get the first shot – but they are putting the weakest first.
In Hungary, the first batch of 9,750 doses – enough to vaccinate 4,875 people, as two doses per person were required – arrived by truck early Saturday and were transported to South Pest Central Hospital in Budapest. The government said four other hospitals, two in Budapest and two in the eastern cities of Debrecen and Nyaregija, would also receive vaccines from the initial shipment.
French officials said they would give priority to the elderly, based on the virus’s fatal effects on older people in previous virus growth in France. The French Medical Safety Agency will monitor any potential problems.
Germany, where the epidemic costs more than 30,000 lives, will start with more than 80 people and people caring for vulnerable groups.
Spanish officials said the first batch of vaccines to reach the country had arrived in the central city of Guadalajara – where the first shots would be fired at a nursing home on Sunday morning.
In Italy, which has the largest virus killing more than 71,000 people in Europe, a Rome nurse at Spallanzani Hospital, the main infectious disease facility in the capital, will be the first woman in the country to receive the vaccine, after other healthcare workers.
In Poland, the first two people to be vaccinated on Sunday will be a nurse and a doctor at the Interior Ministry Hospital in Warsaw, the capital’s main coronavirus hospital, followed by medical personnel at dozens of other hospitals.
Polish Prime Minister Matusz Morawiecki called it Panda’s patriotic duty to vaccinate – a message directed at a society where there is a high level of vaccine hesitation arising from a general distrust of authorities.
In Bulgaria, where vaccine hesitation is even greater, the first to take the shot will be Health Minister Kostadin Angelov, who has promised an aggressive campaign to boost the benefits of the shots.
In Croatia, where the first batch of 9,750 vaccines arrived early Saturday, according to the state’s HRT TV, a care home resident in the capital in Zagreb will receive the first vaccine on Sunday morning. Officials also planned to include celebrities and other public figures in a vaccination campaign.
Romanian Prime Minister Florin Catu said that we had been waiting for this for a year.
Vaccination starts as the first cases of a new version of the virus that is now spreading in Britain and is now detected in France and Spain. The new version, which the British authorities said circulated much more easily, has caused European countries, the United States and China to impose new restrictions on travel for the British people.
The French Public Health Agency said that a French man living in England arrived in France on 19 December and tested positive for the new version. He has no symptoms and is isolated in his home in Central City.
Meanwhile, health authorities in the Madrid region said they have confirmed the UK version in four people, all of whom are in good health. Regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero said the new strain came when an infected person went to Madrid’s airport.
The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the new UK variant, but further studies need to be absolutely certain.
Associated Press authors include Lorne Cook in Brussels, David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, Angela Charlton in Paris, Barcelona, Joseph Wilson in Spain, Frances D’Milio in Rome, Jovana Gac in Belgrade, Serbia, and Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria. has contributed. This report.
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