Germany and Hungary began to apply the first vaccines against the coronavirus on Saturday, just hours after receiving their first doses, ahead of the European Union’s plans for a coordinated launch in the 27 nations of the bloc one day.
“Every day we wait is an extra day,” said Tobias Krueger, the operator of a nursing home where immunizations began on Saturday in Halberstadt, in the north-eastern German region of Saxony-Anhalt.
The first person in the household to be immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was Edith Kwoizalla, 101, the dpa news agency reported.
Krueger said 40 of the 59 residents of the home wanted the vaccination along with 10 of the 40 workers. He was among the immunized.
In Hungary, several health workers were vaccinated at the Pest South Central Hospital in Budapest, while the Slovak authorities also planned to start administering their first doses on Saturday night.
Shipments of coronavirus vaccines reached warehouses across the European Union on Friday and early Saturday after leaving a plant in Belgium before Christmas. Authorities said the first injections would be given until Sunday to the most vulnerable people, as part of a coordinated effort across the EU.
The launch marks a moment of hope for a region that includes some of the areas where the virus emerged most strongly in the world, such as Italy and Spain, and others, such as the Czech Republic, which were spared from the worst from the start and that until the boreal fall saw the worst blows to their health care systems.
In total, the 27 member states of the EU have registered at least 16 million cases of coronavirus and more than 336 thousand deaths.
The distribution is the result of coordination by the 27 member states, which helps the bloc to also project a sense of unity in a mission of logistical complexity to save lives after the difficulties of negotiating and reaching a last minute trade agreement. post-Brexit with Great Britain.
“Here’s the good news for Christmas,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told a news conference on Saturday. “At this moment, trucks are running through Europe, Germany and their regions, in order to deliver the first vaccine. The day after tomorrow, more deliveries will follow. This vaccine is the decisive key to ending this pandemic ”.
“It is the key to getting our lives back,” Spahn stressed.
The first injections, however, are limited to just under 10,000 doses in most countries, and mass vaccination programs are expected to begin until January. Each country will decide who will get the first vaccines, but all are putting the most vulnerable first.
French authorities said they will prioritize older people, based on the high impact among the elderly from the previous outbreaks in France. The French medical safety agency will monitor possible problems.
Spanish authorities reported on Saturday that the first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine arrived at a Pfizer warehouse in the city of Guadalajara, in central Spain.
The government said it arrived in a truck that transported the vaccine from Belgium. It is the first part of what the authorities indicated will be weekly shipments of an average amount of 350 thousand doses.
The first vaccines will be administered on Sunday morning at a home for the elderly in Guadalajara.
Spain plans to receive more than 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next 12 weeks, enough to inoculate just over 2.2 million people. It will represent the first phase of a vaccination plan at the national level.