LONDON / BERLIN / ANKARA
European governments look forward to speed up their COVID-19 vaccination programs as a new variant of the coronavirus spread across the continent and daily infections continue to rise.
The UK has become the first country to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with a 91-year-old Margaret Keenan was the first to be given the shot on Dec. 8, 2020. It also started to roll out the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine as of Jan. 4.
Meanwhile, EU member states started their vaccination campaigns on Dec. 27 last year days after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave a green light to use Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine.
On Jan. 6, EMA also gave approval for the Moderna vaccine to be used in the EU.
Nearly 7 million people in Europe have so far received the vaccine jab, according to a UK-based tracker developed by OurWorldInData.
Nearly 4% of British population or around 2.5 million people have received at least 1 dose of vaccine across the UK.
The government’s priority is to give virus protection to most vulnerable groups, including health workers.
New vaccine centers are being set up across the country and the government plans include ramping up vaccination by introducing a 24/7 vaccination program as soon as possible.
Denmark has so far vaccinated over 118,000 people, nearly 2% of the population, making the country the second after the UK in terms of vaccination rate.
In Germany, which is struggling to contain a more deadly second wave of the virus, vaccinations have gone more slowly than planned.
The country began administering the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff at nursing homes late last month, a few days after the vaccine was approved by the EU on Dec. 21.
In almost three weeks, a total of 758,093 people have been vaccinated (9.1 vaccinated per 1,000 population), according to the country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government is facing harsh criticism for lagging behind other countries, although the world’s first effective vaccine against COVID-19 was developed by German pharma company BioNTech.
Nearly 800,000 people in Italy have received COVID-19 vaccine so far, which makes only 1.2% of the overall population.
Despite an acceleration in the vaccination campaign over the past week, the situation varies substantially from region to region, but daily coronavirus cases and deaths have yet to show a significant decrease.
Italy decided to extend the lockdown until the end of April, Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Wednesday, adding that the pandemic is in a “phase of expansion again”.
Over 2.3 million people in Italy have so far tested positive for the virus, with the death toll surpassing 80,000, making it Europe’s second hardest-hit country after the UK.
In France, the most vaccine-skeptic country in Europe, nearly 200,000 people have so far received the COVID-19 vaccine, only 0.2 of the population.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex admitted last week that France lagged behind other countries but it plans to speed up the vaccination program throughout the country.
France has the third-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe, as 69,031 people in the country have lost their lives, and over 2.8 million have tested positive.
Spain has so far administered 581,638 jabs, which is almost half of the all doses the country received from Pfizer/BioNTech.
The country also saw the shipment of the first doses of Moderna vaccine this week.
At least 52,878 people have lost their lives due to COVID19 in Spain, with overall infections reaching 2.1 million since the beginning of the pandemic last year.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.