Almost three weeks after Britain became the first country in the world to offer the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in a mass inoculation programme, Europe has finally started to roll out doses of the drug.
The first shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been despatched from a manufacturing centre in Belgium, allowing most health authorities to begin delivering jabs to the most vulnerable across the continent from today.
But Germany and Hungary stole a march on their EU neighbours when they began vaccinating their citizens yesterday, a day before Eurocrats had planned to start a co-ordinated continental roll-out.
The EU is launching a co-ordinated vaccine rollout to fight #COVID19, in what they termed as a "touching moment of unity".— Wako Joel (@WakoJoel) December 27, 2020
European Commission President @vonderleyen said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been delivered to all 27 member states.https://t.co/fElA1xLYUR
With at least 600,000 Britons already inoculated against Covid-19 since Margaret Keenan was given the jab on December 8, Europe's vulnerable groups have had to wait for experts at the European Medicines Agency to give formal approval.
The European vaccination effort had been scheduled to start at a care home for the elderly in the Spanish city of Guadalajara, north-east of Madrid.
Instead, Hungarian doctors and healthcare workers yesterday became the first Europeans to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and administered jabs to elderly residents at a nursing home in the German town of Halberstadt.
The roll-out, however delayed, gives hope to some of the world's worst-hit countries. At least 16 million cases of coronavirus have been reported across the EU, with more than 360,000 deaths.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.