“A ray of light in the dark”

A whole continent has longed for this day: The corona vaccination campaign officially started in the European Union on Sunday. There is great hope that this will be the beginning of a turnaround.

As in Germany, the official vaccination campaign against the corona virus began in the other EU countries on Sunday. Leading politicians in the EU and its member states welcomed the start of vaccination with the vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer. They called on the population to make use of the vaccination offer as soon as possible.

In an interview with the AFP news agency, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that the vaccinations were safe and effective. “They are not only protection for the people themselves, but also of course for those around them,” she said.

Sindelfingen, DRK care center: Doctor Dr.  Markus Krautter gives Gertrud Kaiser the vaccination.  (Source: imago images / Eibner press photo)Sindelfingen, DRK care center: Doctor Dr. Markus Krautter gives Gertrud Kaiser the vaccination. (Source: Eibner press photo / imago images)

Von der Leyen praised the EU’s approach to the procurement of the vaccine: “The European Commission has negotiated the world’s broadest vaccine portfolio with six different manufacturers.” French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of a “new weapon in the fight against the virus”. The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven described the vaccine as a “ray of light in the dark”.

EU: We kept our promise

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides spoke of an “emotional day for all of us”. Six months after the presentation of the corona vaccination strategy, the EU kept its promise to “provide vaccines for all member states at the same time”. In view of the vaccinations that are starting up, Europe can start the new year “with optimism”.

Arena Berlin: Mario Szaja (left, CDU), President of the DRK state representation, at the start of Berlin's first vaccination center.  (Source: imago images / Photopress Mueller)Arena Berlin: Mario Szaja (left, CDU), President of the DRK state representation, at the start of Berlin’s first vaccination center. (Source: Photopress Mueller / imago images)

The first vaccine doses for the whole of the EU were delivered from the Pfizer factory in Puurs, Belgium. In some cases, the first vaccinations were given on the same day. In addition to a 101-year-old nursing home resident in Saxony-Anhalt, people in Hungary and Slovakia also received the vaccine one day before the official start of vaccination in the EU.

Countries have different priorities

29-year-old nurse Claudia Alivernini, who became the first Italian woman to be vaccinated with the vaccine on Sunday, said she felt “great pride” and responsibility for the privilege. While in Italy employees in the health care sector are given preference in the first phase, in Spain and France the residents of nursing homes were the first recipients of the vaccine.

Health workers are vaccinated in the University Hospital in Roskilde, Denmark.  (Source: imago images)Health workers are vaccinated in the University Hospital in Roskilde, Denmark. (Source: imago images)

In the Czech Republic, the first public vaccination was the populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis. He explained that he had seen a woman on television who said she wanted to “wait for Babis” to get the vaccination.

The EU had approved the vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer just under a week ago. The EU-wide vaccination started later than in many other regions of the world, including Russia, Canada, China, the USA, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

Next vaccine before approval

Great Britain was the first Western European country to start vaccinating with the Biontech Pfizer product on December 8th. A decision by the British authorities on the approval of the vaccine from the British manufacturer AstraZeneca is also expected in the coming days.

Milan, Northern Italy: Residents of a care facility are waiting for their corona vaccination.  (Source: imago images)Milan, Northern Italy: Residents of a care facility are waiting for their corona vaccination. (Source: imago images)

Politicians and health experts hope that the start of the vaccination campaign will turn the trend in the corona pandemic. But the willingness to vaccinate is still cautious in many places. According to a survey published in the “Journal du Dimanche”, for example, 56 percent of French people do not want to be vaccinated.

The situation on the continent remains dire

The number of infections has been rising sharply across Europe for weeks. With 25 million detected infections, the continent remains the most severely affected region in the world by the pandemic, according to an overview by the AFP news agency based on official information. According to the count, the number of registered infections worldwide rose to more than 80 million, 1.7 million people died from or with the virus.

Due to the continued strong spread of the coronavirus, new restrictions came into force in many parts of Europe. In Austria, all-day exit restrictions have been in effect again since Saturday. Poland will return to lockdown on Monday, and the Irish are also expecting new restrictions at the beginning of the week.

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