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Vaccination start in Europe: “Touching moment of unity”

Politicians and doctors across the EU have called for vaccinations. On the first day of the Europe-wide campaign, depending on the country, the elderly or medical staff benefited first. There should be mass vaccinations in January.

Several countries in the European Union have officially started vaccinating against the coronavirus. The first people were given a vaccine dose in countries such as Italy, Poland, Croatia, Spain, Austria and Romania. They either belong to the group with the greatest risk or work in the health and care sector.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the Europe-wide vaccination start and the coming first vaccination days as a “touching moment of unity”. The first deliveries were limited to less than 10,000 in most member countries. Mass vaccinations won’t start until January.

The drug from the German manufacturer Biontech and its US partner Pfizer was also given to some politicians, including the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. “There’s nothing to worry about,” he said at the vaccination.

“Get vaccinated”

In Romania, a nurse at the Matei Bals research institute in Bucharest was the first to be vaccinated: “It didn’t hurt at all,” she said. “Open your eyes and get the vaccine.”

Although the vaccination start should take place today in a coordinated EU-wide manner, in some places people had already been vaccinated yesterday.

Italy: “That was a historic moment”

The first vaccinations against Covid-19 have also started in Italy, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic in Europe. Three health care workers at the Spallanzani Hospital in Rome were injected with the vaccine developed by Biontech in the morning, said disease officer Domenico Arcuri.

“That was an exciting, historic moment,” said a nurse to the television channel Rai News 24. Italy became the eighth country in the world to have exceeded two million registered corona cases on Thursday. There are now 70,909 deaths reported – the highest number in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.

“A beautiful, symbolic day”

That is why there was great relief when the first vaccine approved in the EU was first used. “The message is one of hope, of trust and an invitation to take part in this opportunity,” said one of the first recipients, doctor Maria Rosaria Capobianchi. She is the head of the virology laboratory at Spallanzani Hospital and helped isolate the virus in early February.

In January, a Chinese couple from Wuhan tested positive for the virus there, making it the first confirmed case in Italy. Lombardy was later to develop into the epicenter of the corona outbreak in Europe.

Denmark: “Light at the end of the tunnel”

The first people were also vaccinated in Denmark. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said there is now a “light at the end of the tunnel after the most difficult year since World War II”. Visibly moved, she spoke to reporters of a “great turning point for the whole world”.

Each EU country decides who will be vaccinated first. While Germany, Spain and France prioritize the elderly and nursing home residents, Italy and Poland will vaccinate doctors and other hospital staff first.

In total, at least 16 million corona infections and more than 336,000 deaths have been recorded in the 27 EU countries. In addition to Italy, for example, Spain had such high numbers at the beginning of this year that both were considered hotspots in a global comparison. Other EU countries, such as the Czech Republic, were initially spared worse, but in the autumn their health care system was about to collapse.

The Tagesschau reported on this topic on December 27, 2020 at 12:01 p.m.

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