European Union nations have launched a co-ordinated effort to give Covid-19 vaccinations to adults among their 450 million citizens.
Shots were administered on Sunday morning to the most vulnerable people, healthcare workers who take care of them, and some politicians to reassure the public that the vaccinations are safe.
The vaccines, developed by Germany’s BioNTech and American drug maker Pfizer, started arriving in EU countries on Friday. The EU has seen some of the world’s earliest and hardest-hit virus hot spots, including Italy and Spain.
Others EU countries, like the Czech Republic, were spared the worst early on only to see their healthcare systems near collapse in the autumn.
Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus cases and more than 336,000 deaths – huge numbers that experts still agree understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen released a video celebrating the vaccine rollout, calling it “a touching moment of unity”.
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