Europe, on Sunday, launched a coordinated vaccination programme at an unprecedented scale, a few days after the European Union approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech.
This is seen as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives around the globe.
According to a report from Reuters, Europe, which has a population of about 450 million people has secured contracts with a range of suppliers for over 2 billion vaccine doses and has set a target for every adult to be inoculated during 2021.
Some European countries are calling on retired medical personnel to help out with the vaccination efforts due to the large scale of the programme despite the region having some of the best-resourced healthcare systems. Even some of the countries have relaxed rules on who is allowed to give injections.
President of the European Commission, coordinating the programme, Ursula von der Leyen, in a tweet said, “We are starting to turn the page on a difficult year. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic.”
The European governments this time around are working to ensure that there is equal access to the vaccines across the region, learning from their past inaction, after they were criticized for failing to work together to curb the spread of the disease earlier on.
Italy and France were among the first of the region’s 27 member states to start vaccinating its citizens, while Germany defended its decision to begin ahead of time by administering its first shot on Saturday.
Also, Hungary on Saturday moved ahead on the official roll-out by starting to administer shots of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to frontline workers at hospitals in the capital Budapest.
Other countries like France, Austria, Portugal and Spain have also begun their mass vaccinations, starting with health workers on Sunday. Outside the EU, Britain, Switzerland and Serbia have already started in recent weeks.
What you should know
- This move by European governments, which is coming after the commencement of such exercise from the UK and United States, is a huge step aimed at ending the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 1.759 million people globally.
- Since the approval of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech by various governments, over 3.5 million people have been vaccinated.