Monday, December 28th, 2020

EU begins vaccinations to defeat pandemic

Published 12:11 am | December 28, 2020

somoy sangbad

Online desk ; EU countries on Sunday embarked on a vaccination campaign hailed as the “key” to defeating Covid-19, as the growing spread of a new coronavirus variant intensified fears the pandemic could wreak further devastation, reports AFP from Paris.

The jab is a glimmer of hope for a continent still battling the pandemic in earnest, with infection rates again on the rise, lockdowns imposed and Christmas and New Year plans left in tatters for many.

The numbers vaccinated in the initial days with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab are largely symbolic and it will be months before enough are protected to envisage a return to normal from the pandemic that has killed 1.76 million people worldwide since emerging in China late last year.

An AFP count showed the world passed 80 million confirmed coronavirus cases early Sunday.

In a sign of impatience, some EU countries began vaccinating on Saturday, a day before the official start, with a 101-year-old woman in a care home becoming the first person in Germany to be inoculated and Hungary and Slovakia also handing out their first shots.

A 96-year-old living in a care home in central Spain became the first person in the country to be vaccinated on Sunday, in an event broadcast by national television.

She felt “nothing” from the shot, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo Sanchez said with a smile after being injected.

In Italy, the EU country worst hit by the pandemic with 71,000 dead, 29-year-old nurse Claudia Alivernini was the first to receive the vaccination Sunday morning.

“It is with deep pride and a deep sense of responsibility that I got the vaccine today. A small gesture but a fundamental gesture for all of us,” said Alivernini.

“Italy is waking up today,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “This day will remain in our memory for ever.”

EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a video on her Twitter account that the campaign start was a “touching moment of unity and a European success story” and said the EU had “secured enough doses for our whole population of 450 million people.”

“The vaccination is the key to ending the pandemic,” added German Health Minister Jens Spahn. “This is a hopeful day for Europe.”

France is due to begin its campaign in two care homes for the elderly in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, a low-income area hard hit by Covid-19, and also in similar centers in the eastern city of Dijon.

China, Russia, Canada, the United States, Switzerland, Serbia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia have also begun their vaccination campaigns.

Britain, which last week finalized the deal on leaving the EU, began its vaccination campaign amid much fanfare on December 8, three weeks ahead of the bloc.

The new strain, which experts fear is more contagious, prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK.

In a video message World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was time to learn the lessons from Covid-19 as “history tells us that this will not be the last pandemic.”

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