‘Window of hope’: Europe begins COVID-19 vaccination

BUDAPEST / PARIS / MADRID (Reuters) – Hungary and Slovakia marched against their EU nations as they began vaccinating people against COVID-19 on Saturday, a day before in several other countries including France and Spain As the epidemic increased. Continent.

Healthcare worker applied Pfizer-BioNotech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital as outbreak of coronovirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Nitra, Slovakia, December 26, 2020. REUTERS / Radovan Stoklasa

In Germany, a small number of people at a care home for the elderly were vaccinated on Saturday, the day before the country’s official start of the vaccination campaign.

Mass vaccination in the European Union, home to around 450 million people, would be an important step toward ending an epidemic that killed more than 1.7 million people worldwide, crippling economies and businesses and jobs Destroyed.

After Hungary received its first consignment in sufficient quantities to vaccinate 4,875 people, the staff of hospitals in the capital’s Budapest received a vaccine developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNtech at the frontline. The first worker to receive the shot was Adrian Kertesz, a doctor at Deleon-Pest Central Hospital.

Hungary has reported 315,362 COVID-19 cases with 8,951 deaths. More than 6,000 people are still hospitalized with COVID-19, keeping the Central European country’s care system under stress.

“We are very happy that the vaccine is here,” said Zuszsa and Antal Takas, a couple between the ages of 68 and 75, playing table tennis in Budapest Park.

“We will get vaccinations because our daughter had a child in France last month and we want to go see them. Zuxasa said that we do not dare to travel before getting vaccinated.

In Slovakia, Vladimir Kramsi, an infectious disease specialist and a member of the government’s Epidemic Commission, was the first to receive the vaccine, which was followed by his colleague.

Mass vaccinations are scheduled to begin on Sunday with health workers in countries including France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Spain.

The distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was first introduced in the UK earlier this month, presents tough challenges. The vaccine uses new mRNA genetic technology, which means that it should be stored at a very low temperature of about -80 ° C (-112 ° F).

New year in france, spain

France, which received its first shipment of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Saturday, will begin its administration in the greater Paris area and the Burgundy-France-Comte region on Sunday.

“We have a total of 19,500 doses, of 3,900 vials. These doses will be stored in our freezer at minus 80 degrees (Celsius) and then distributed to individual nursing homes and hospitals, ”said Frank Huett, head of pharmaceutical products for the Paris Public Hospital System.

The French government hopes to vaccinate around 1 million people in nursing homes during January and February, and then another 14 million -15 million in the wider population between March and June.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the French medical regulator on Thursday.

France has reported just 3,093 new coronovirus infections in the last 24 hours on Saturday, a rapid decline in more than 20,000 cases over the past two days, with figures not seen after 20 November. , Which highlighted reporting irregularities, is at the height of about a month.

A total of 2,550,864 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in France, the fifth-highest rally in the world, while its COVID-19 death toll is 62,573, the seventh highest.

In a related development, the Ministry of Health said on Friday that a person from London recently tested positive for a new version of the virus that is spreading rapidly in southern England and is considered more contagious. On Saturday, Sweden also confirmed that it had detected the first case of a new version in a passenger from the United Kingdom.

In Spain, Madrid health officials said on Saturday that they had confirmed four cases of the new version of the virus, since the country received its first delivery of the vaccine.

Health Minister Salvador Illa wrote on Twitter, “Vaccination will begin in Spain tomorrow, coordinating with the rest of Europe.” “This is the beginning of the end of the epidemic.”

The dose will be transported by road to the Spanish islands and North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and other areas of the country, where approximately 50,000 people have died from the disease.

‘Asha’s window has been opened’

Meanwhile, the Germans said the trucks were meant to deliver the vaccine to care homes for the elderly, who are first in line to receive the vaccine with the official start of the vaccination campaign on Sunday.

A small number of people in Germany, however, received the vaccine on Saturday, with the first woman, aged 101, at a nursing home in Halberst in the Herz Hill area.

The confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in the country increased from 14,455 to 1,627,103, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases on Saturday. In all, more than 29,000 people have died.

The federal government plans to distribute more than 1.3 million vaccine doses to more than 1.3 million per week by the end of this year and from January.

“There may be some hiccups at one point or another in the beginning, but this is quite normal when such a complex process begins,” said Health Minister Jensen Span.

In Portugal, an truck absconded by police dropped the first batch of COVID-19 jabs at a warehouse in the central region of the country. From there, about 10,000 shots will be delivered to five major hospitals.

“For all of us this is a historic milestone, an important day after such a difficult year,” Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters outside the warehouse.

“A window of hope has now opened, forgetting that there is a very tough fight ahead.”

Reporting by Anita Komovs in Budapest, Benoit Van Overstraten in Paris and Isla Bini in Madrid; Additional reporting by Yiming Wu and Sudeep Kar-Gupta in Paris, Arno Schuetz in Frankfurt, Caterina Demany in Lisbon and Radovan Stoklasa in Nitra; Writing by Praveen Char; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Leslie Adler


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