WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The European Union (EU) on Sunday officially kicked off a concerted effort to provide COVID-19 vaccine to some of the most vulnerable of nearly 450 million people, marking a moment of optimism in the continental war against poor public health. Crisis in a century.
The shot was given Sunday morning to health workers, the elderly and some leading politicians to reassure the public that the vaccines are safe.
In Prague, Czech Prime Minister Andrzej Babis received his shot at dawn, insisting “nothing to worry about.” In Rome, five doctors and nurses wearing white scrubs sat in a semi-circle at Rome’s Spolansani Infectious Diseases Hospital to get their measurements.
“Vaccination is a collective overall love and responsibility,” said Claudia Alivernini, a 29-year-old Spolansani nurse who died before the first shot was fired in Italy.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza, speaking outside the hospital, said the EU’s release was a sign of the continent’s optimism, but that people could not reduce their security for many more months.
“We still have tough months,” he said. “This is a beautiful day, but we still need to be careful … this vaccine is the real way to close this difficult season.”
The vaccine, developed by German bioentech and American pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer, began arriving in super-cold containers at EU hospitals on Friday from a factory in Belgium. The European Union (EU) has identified the world’s earliest and hardest-hit virus hotspots, including Italy and Spain.
Other EU countries, like the Czech Republic, escaped the worst from the beginning.
Overall, at least 16 million corona virus infections and more than 336,000 deaths have been reported in 27 EU countries – experts still acknowledge the true number of cases due to missed cases and limited trials.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen released a video on Saturday celebrating the release of the vaccine, saying it was “a touching moment of unity.”
The campaign, especially in Germany, Britain, Canada and the United States, had to reduce their hatreds as they kicked off their vaccination programs with the same vaccine weeks ago.
Once that was done, some EU vaccines were launched a day earlier In Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. A German nursing home operator vaccinated dozens of people on Saturday, including a 101-year-old woman who said, “Every day we wait is more than one day.”
Each country decides for itself who gets the first shots. Spain, France and Germany have all pledged to give priority to the elderly and those living in nursing homes.
Polish doctors, nurses and others are at the forefront of the fight against the virus. The Central European country largely escaped the uprising that struck Western Europe in the spring, but this fall saw more epidemics and deaths daily.
After a year of difficulties in negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, EU leaders hope to roll the dice to create a sense of solidarity with the Black Plan on a complex life-saving mission.
“It’s here, good news for Christmas,” said German Health Minister Jens Spann. “This vaccine is the crucial key to ending this epidemic … it is the key to getting our lives back on track.”
Politicians who planned to gain exposure to the virus on Sunday as a way to promote the widespread adoption of the vaccine include Slovakian President Jusana Kaputova and Bulgarian Health Minister Kostatin Angelov.
Meanwhile, the first cases of the new virus spreading rapidly around London and the south of England have now been detected in France and Spain. The new variant, which British officials say spreads more easily, has led European countries, the United States and China to impose new restrictions on those coming from Britain.
German pharmaceutical company Bioentech believes its corona virus vaccine works against the New England variant, but further studies should be absolutely conclusive.
On January 6, the European Pharmaceuticals Association will consider approving a second corona virus vaccine, a drug from Moderna that has already been approved for use in the United States.
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