Several European Union countries began vaccinating against COVID-19 Sunday.
In Italy, a nurse, a university professor and a doctor were the first people to receive the initial vaccine dose at Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital.
In Spain, the vaccination began at Los Olmos nursing home in Guadalajara.
In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis was among the first people inoculated, as vaccinations began nationwide.
In Germany Saturday, 101-year-old Edith Kwoizalla, who lives in a retirement home, received the first of her two shots.
In Hungary, it was a doctor, Arienne Kertesz from South Pest.
In Slovakia, an infectious disease specialist was the first in line.
The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were limited to 10,000 doses in most EU countries. Each nation decides its own vaccination program, but all are vaccinating the most vulnerable first.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it “a touching moment of unity” in a video celebrating the beginning of the rollout of the vaccine to nearly 450 million people.
The vaccination in EU countries began as a new coronavirus variant, more contagious and more dangerous, spread internationally, adding emphasis to the World Health Organization’s warning that the current pandemic will not be the last.
The warning came in a video message on Sunday by WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The world must learn from COVID-19 and address “the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and the planet,” Tedros said in his remarks for the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.
“For too long the world has operated on a cycle of panic and neglect,” he said. “We throw money at one epidemic and when it’s over, we forget about it and do nothing to prevent the next one.”
Tedros said every country needs to invest in what he called the supply of care: the ability to avoid, detect and mitigate all kinds of emergencies.
The new virus strain is 50% to 74% more contagious than its predecessors, according to a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, raising fears of more hospitalizations and deaths in 2021 than in 2020.
Effective Monday, U.S. authorities said passengers arriving from Britain must test negative for COVID-19 before departure.
Voice of America – English