EUROPE began rolling out its coronavirus vaccine programme yesterday – almost three weeks behind the UK.
Batches of the Pfizer jab were flown and driven out to 27 countries around the EU in the run up to Christmas from the HQ in Belgium.
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Although the official start date was yesterday three countries – Slovakia, Bulgaria and Germany – started inoculations on Boxing Day.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter: “Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries. Vaccination will begin tomorrow across the EU.
“The #EUvaccinationdays are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic,” she added.
EU officials hope to deliver the vaccinations to more than 300 million people by the end of 2021 to stem the killer bug which has so far claimed more than 336,000 lives across the continent and infected 16 million people.
In Italy amongst the first to be injected were five doctors and nurses at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome which has led the fight against coronavirus.
Health minister Roberto Speranza said 9750 doses had been received but he hoped this figure would jump to 470,000 a week by the beginning of next month.
There were also accusations of queue jumping after it emerged some senior politicians had also been injected.
Care homes in Spain and France were among the first places to receive the jab which is hoped will help bring life back to normal after a nightmare year.
In Germany Edith Kwoizalla, 101, received the jab at her care home and the country’s health minister Jens Spahn said:”This really is a happy Christmas message.
”At this moment, lorries with the first vaccines are on the road all over Europe, all over Germany, in all federal states. Further deliveries will follow the day after tomorrow.
“This vaccine is the crucial key for defeating the pandemic. It’s the key for us getting back our lives.”
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