Press TV, London
The race has begun to vaccinate 450 million people across the European Union against the COVID-19 virus. And not a moment too soon some would say. The vaccine’s delayed arrival has caused frustration across Europe, and Italy has accused Germany of getting ten times the number of doses delivered to Rome.
The roll out of COVID-19 vaccines across Europe began this weekend. Healthcare workers and the elderly are getting the jab first. EU leaders have negotiated contracts for more than 2 billion vaccine doses from various suppliers. The first 200 million are the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
The EU had planned the rollout to begin in unison across the bloc Sunday but Hungary, Germany and Slovakia couldn’t wait and began vaccinating on Saturday. The Netherlands says it won’t start vaccinating until January 8th.
The start of the EU's vaccine rollout comes after a more infectious COVID-19 variant was detected in the UK, which led to dozens of countries closing their borders to UK citizens.
The new variant has been detected in several EU countries as well. But vaccine developers say they expect their shots to work against COVID-19 mutations. More than 600,000 vulnerable people have already been vaccinated in the UK which started administering the Pfizer jab two and a half weeks ago. But ministers warn the country must double its vaccination target to two million a week in order to avoid a third wave.
The UK hopes to expand its vaccination programme with the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which is expected to start on January 4th. There are now more COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England than there were during the peak of the first wave, and more than 71,000 Britons have died of the virus.
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