The EU approved the Moderna vaccine today to give a boost to European leaders, who are increasingly facing criticism of a sluggish jab rollout, which is behind the UK and the bloc in protecting its 450 million people from Covid-19 America left behind.
While the 27-member union has theoretically secured access to billions of cans, only around a million people have been vaccinated with the Pfizer / BioNTech shock to date – fewer than in the UK alone.
But EU governments got a new tool today to speed things up after the European Medicines Agency finally gave the green light to the Moderna vaccine developed and already used in the US.
A third vaccine, the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab, which is already in use in the UK, is still under review in the EU – while the UK is in no rush to approve the Moderna jab as stocks are unlikely to arrive before spring.
The EU countries will get it sooner, and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the block was working "at full speed" to make it available in stuttering rollouts in several countries.
The French government was particularly upset after only 500 people were vaccinated in the first week, while the Netherlands was the last country to start the process today after its vaccines had been in freezers for two weeks.
Germany, which has given the largest number of doses in the EU to date, is considering using the UK strategy of delaying second doses to give more people the first – a move approved in Denmark but rejected in Spain.
The European Commission had previously defended the bloc against criticism of its slow introduction, saying its plans would take the EU back in time.
When asked why the commission hadn't bought more doses of the Pfizer vaccine, health policy spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker said the main philosophy is to diversify our portfolio and not put all the eggs in one basket.
There were also concerns among non-EU countries in the Balkans that were having difficulty obtaining vaccines. A North Macedonian epidemiologist compared this to the sinking of the Titanic, saying that "the rich have packed all available lifeboats".
Thirteen EU foreign ministers, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, signed a joint letter today saying the bloc should do more to lend a helping hand to the Balkans and Ukraine.
Numerous EU countries are facing delays and criticism in handling the vaccine rollout, with the bloc lagging behind the UK and America in protecting its 450 million people from Covid-19
Europe's Top Vaccines: According to Our World In Data, these countries have dispensed more than 10,000 doses to date – but others, including France, are lagging behind, and governments hope that approval of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday will speed things up as officials This is due to bottlenecks in the Pfizer / BioNTech supply for the delays so far
FRANCE: ANGER AFTER ONLY 500 WILL BE VACCINATED IN THE FIRST WEEK
France on Tuesday promised to speed up vaccinations but failed to silence critics who accused the government of "amateurism" after only 500 people were stabbed in the first week of the campaign.
Health Minister Olivier Veran is under strong pressure as France lags behind EU neighbors like Germany and Italy in delivering the Pfizer / BioNTech push.
Vaccine doses given by EU countries
Germany – 316,962
Italy – 182,442
Spain – 139,339
Poland – 92,220
Denmark – 51,512
Romania – 41,609
Portugal – 32,000
Greece – 16,233
Hungary – 15,000
Croatia – 13,798
Czech Republic – 13,000
Slovakia – 7,201
Austria – 6,000
Slovenia – 5,934
Finland – 5,445
France – 5,000
Bulgaria – 4,739
Ireland – 4,000
Estonia – 3,188
Latvia – 2,923
Lithuania – 2,270
Malta – 1,400
Luxembourg – 1,200
Belgium – 700
Started today: Netherlands
No data: Cyprus, Sweden
Source: Our world in data
Vaccinations for those over 75 who are not in nursing homes, a group of five million people, have yet to be approved. Veran only says that this will be done by the end of January. France is also hoping for 500,000 cans of Moderna a month after the sting is approved.
"Why don't we just vaccinate like the Israelis, the British and the Germans," asked a group of doctors in an opinion piece in the newspaper Le Parisien, demanding that all willing health workers and people over 65 be bumped immediately.
A satirical cartoon in Le Monde newspaper Tuesday showed a masked President Emmanuel Macron sitting on a snail and holding the reins. Macron met with officials on Monday to discuss the traffic jam.
Veran has vowed to accelerate the vaccine drive "in the coming days", to promise an "exponential curve" and to swear that the "cruising speed of vaccinations will catch up with our neighbors".
However, opposition politicians were far from satisfied. Xavier Bertrand, a former health minister, said he had the "uncomfortable impression of a lack of vaccines".
Romain Pasquier of the French National Research Center blamed a centralized political system for the delays. "I thought the health minister had learned something from the painful experience last spring when the first lockdown was carried out extremely centrally, but I was wrong," he said.
GERMANY: WEIGHTED THE DISPOSED STRATEGY OF BRITAIN
Germany has so far dispensed the most vaccine doses in the EU, almost 317,000 in total, including more than 130,000 for nursing home residents. The number per capita is the second highest in the EU after Denmark.
However, this has not prevented criticism from taking off Europe's largest economy slowly, and Angela Merkel's government plans to accelerate the process.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has been accused of not having procured enough vaccines, but he hopes to have a vaccine for everyone in Germany by the summer.
"The problem is the lack of manufacturing capacity with global demand," he said.
One option that is being considered, according to German media, is for medical professionals to extract six instead of five doses from each vial – as has been done in Israel, which leads the global vaccine race.
Germany is also considering the UK's current strategy of giving a dose to as many people as possible and postponing the second dose until later.
An independent vaccination commission will examine whether the second shot can be delayed beyond a current maximum of 42 days.
BioNTech, the German company that developed the vaccine with Pfizer, has warned that there is no data to prove what happens to just one dose. However, Denmark has already approved a six week delay.
Spahn said Germany is working with BioNTech to open a new manufacturing facility in Marburg as early as next month, which would also increase the global supply of this vaccine in 2021.
FRANCE: A French TV presenter receives the vaccine today in Aulnay-sous-Bois (left), under criticism from Minister of Health Olivier Veran (pictured right at a vaccine distribution center near Paris) for a slow rollout with only 500 vaccinated in a week were
NETHERLANDS: FINALLY STARTING AFTER TWO WEEK MAINTENANCE
The Netherlands became the last country in the EU to start its vaccination program today after a two-week dead end that has sparked criticism.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted in parliament on Tuesday that he was "really disappointed that we are doing this after other countries two weeks".
His government faced waning criticism in the debate on Tuesday. MPs were angry that the Pfizer vaccines had been in freezers for two weeks.
The ceremonial first shot was at a 39-year-old nursing home worker, while hospital staff at the frontline will also begin vaccinating on Wednesday.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said it was an "amazing moment" but admitted that the government was not sufficiently "agile".
Officials have previously blamed logistical problems and the need for a national permit, while the Netherlands has been the hardest in lockdown to date.
ITALY: VACCINE & # 39; INDEPENDENCE & # 39; strive for
Italy has so far dispensed more than 180,000 doses of vaccine, although there are "significant regional differences," a health council chief said Tuesday.
Nearly 100,000 people have been vaccinated in the past 48 hours as vaccination efforts increased, Franco Locatelli said, according to Ansa News Agency.
Italy is the first western country to feel the full force of Covid-19 in early 2020. It prioritizes vaccines for health workers and their large elderly population.
Italy is also investing in a homegrown vaccine candidate from Italian biotech company ReiThera, which it hopes can achieve vaccine independence.
Phase I studies with the vaccine showed that 93 percent of the volunteers developed antibodies and none of them had serious side effects.
"If the data received so far are confirmed, we will have an effective and safe single-dose vaccine in the coming months," said Minister of Health Roberto Speranza.
NETHERLANDS: The vaccination program only started today when nursing home worker Sanna Elkadiri (photo) received the Pfizer push in a nursing home in Veghel
SPAIN: STICK ON WITH A TWO DOSE PLAN
The Spanish health authority will continue to recommend giving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine within the three-week period recommended by their manufacturers, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Monday.
Almost 140,000 people in Spain have received a vaccine so far, but, like in other countries, criticism has been given for the slow start to the campaign.
El Pais stressed the fact that the rollout is happening at "very different speeds" in different parts of Spain – with Madrid being among the slowest areas, having consumed just six percent of the vaccines it has received so far.
In contrast, the Asturias region has already used all of its first shipment, while thousands of cans have been dispensed in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
IRELAND: CARE HOME JABS GO ON THE GO
Nursing home vaccinations began Tuesday in Ireland when a 95-year-old great-grandmother got the first one week after the first bumps in the country.
The rollout of the vaccine in nursing homes was supposed to start on Monday but has been delayed due to issues with informed consent.
This came amid mounting criticism from opposition parties of Ireland's vaccination program, which has only reached 4,000 people since December 29.
But Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin denied claims that it was slow, telling RTE radio, “I wouldn't be using that phrase that slowly to get started.
& # 39; We will deliver the vaccination program according to the supply chain. When we get vaccines, we will inject, ”he said.
POLAND: OUTRAGE ABOUT CERTAIN VACCINATIONS
A Warsaw hospital has come under fire after delivering vaccinations to celebrities and politicians, which sparked public outrage and sparked a government investigation that began Monday.
Poland is only supposed to vaccinate medical staff – but 18 of the first 450 recordings at Warsaw Medical University were for cultural figures such as an actress, singer and TV presenter.
The controversial bumps came to light when Leszek Miller, a former prime minister and a regular patient at the hospital, announced that he had received the vaccine on December 30th.
Current Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called it a "real scandal" and said that "compliance with the rules of the vaccination sequence is an expression of respect for the rules of social solidarity".
Poland is expected to start vaccinating seniors, teachers and members of the armed forces later this month. Only then will the vaccine be available to the rest of the 38 million population.
Michal Dworczyk, the vaccination officer, said Monday he expected 2.9 million to be vaccinated in the first three months of 2021.
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