ROME (AP) – EU nations on Sunday called off a coordinated effort to give COVID-19 vaccination to the most vulnerable among nearly 450 million people, against the worst public health crisis in a century Marks the moment of hope in the battle of the continent. .
Health care workers, the elderly, and prominent politicians received some of the first shots in the 27-nation block to reassure the public that vaccinations are safe and represent the best chance of emerging from the epidemic.
“It didn’t hurt at all,” said Mihaela Engel, a nurse at the Matei Bales Institute in Bucharest, who was the first person in Romania to get the vaccine. “Open your eyes and get vaccinated.”
In Rome, five doctors and nurses wearing white scrubs sat in a semi-circle at Spalanzani Infectious Disease Hospital to receive their doses.
“The message is one of hope, trust, and an invitation to share this choice,” said one of the recipients, Dr. Maria Rosaria Capobiani, who heads the virology lab at Spallanzani and the virus that isolated the virus in early February Was part of the team. . “There is no reason to belong.”
Cesar Domenico Archeri of the Italian virus said it is important that Italy’s first vaccine dose was given in Splenjani, where a Chinese couple from Wuhan tested positive in January and became Italy’s first confirmed case. Only later would North Lombardy become the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe. Italy now has about 72,000 of the continent’s worst confirmed virus deaths.
Arkuri told reporters outside the hospital, “Today is a beautiful, symbolic day: all citizens of Europe are getting together and starting vaccinations.”
But he warned: “We all have to be prudent, alert and responsible. We still have a long road, but at the end we see a little light. “
Vaccines, developed by Germany’s BioNotech and American drugmaker Pfizer, began arriving in super-cold containers from a factory in Belgium on Friday in European Union hospitals.
At the Los Olmos Nursing Home in the Spanish city of Guadalajara, northeast of Madrid, a 96-year-old resident and a caretaker were the first Spanish to receive the vaccine.
“Let’s see if we can treat everyone and overcome this virus,” said the elder Arakeli Hidalgo, the elderly person after receiving this injection.
The Czech Republic spared the worst of the epidemic in the spring, sparing only its health care system to collapse in the fall. In Prague, Czech Prime Minister Lady Babis received her shot on Sunday morning and insisted: “There is nothing to worry about.” Seated next to him in a wheelchair was World War II veteran Emily Repikova, who also received the shot.
In total, 27 countries in the European Union have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths – a large number of which experts still agree understand the true toll of the epidemic due to missed cases and limited testing .
Everyone receiving shots will have to return in three weeks for the second dose.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen released a video on Saturday celebrating the vaccine rollout, calling it “a touching moment of unity”. The vaccination campaign should reduce the frustrations that were building up, particularly in Germany, Britain, Canada and the United States, discontinuing vaccination programs earlier that same week.
As it turned out, some EU vaccinations began the day before In Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. The operator of the German nursing home had vaccinated dozens of people on Saturday, including a 101-year-old woman, saying that “every day we wait is too much a day.”
Each EU country is deciding on its own who will get the first shots, vowing to put the eldest and residents first in the nursing home.
EU leaders are counting on the vaccine rollout to help develop a sense of unity in a complex life mission after experiencing a year of difficulties negotiating a trade deal with Britain after Brexit.
“Here it is – good news on Christmas,” German Health Minister Jens Spann said. “This vaccine is the decisive key to ending this epidemic … it’s the key to getting our lives back.”
Among the politicians planning to take the virus shot on Sunday to promote widespread acceptance of vaccination were Slovakia’s President Jujana Caputova and Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov.
Meanwhile, the first cases of a new virus variant that is spreading rapidly around London and southern England have now been found 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.
Japan became the latest working country to announce that all non-resident foreigners would be barred from entering January 31 as a precaution against the new version of Britain.
Germany’s biotech has said that it is convinced that its coronavirus vaccine works against the new version of the UK, but added that further studies need to be fully definitive.
On January 6, the European Medicines Agency will consider approving a second coronavirus vaccine, a modern one already in use in the United States.
Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland.
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