Saturday

28th May 2022

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

  • Over 400,000 Covid-related deaths have so-far been reported in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and UK (Photo: Leaf)

Vaccines are being rolled out throughout the European Union, as a new variant of Covid-19 from the UK begins to spread.

The official EU launch date of the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech kicked off on Sunday (27 December), as part of a wider effort to inoculate more than 450 million people.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

On Twitter, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the vaccine, which needs to be stored in very cold temperatures, had been delivered to all EU countries.

"First we protect the more vulnerable. Soon we'll have enough doses for all of us," she said.

In the Czech Republic, the first person to get vaccinated was prime minister Andrej Babiš, followed by a 95-year old World War Two veteran.

Elsewhere, the first people to get the dose were primarily the elderly and healthcare workers.

In Germany, it was a 101-year old woman, in Spain a 96-year old woman, in Romania a 26-year old nurse, in Slovakia an infectious disease specialist, in Hungary a doctor, and in Poland a head nurse, among others.

Although Sunday was the official EU-wide vaccination date, Hungary, Germany and Slovakia had started a day earlier.

"It's here … the good news at Christmas," said German health minister Jens Spahn.

But Spahn's announcement had also followed the discovery of a new variant spreading among member states after being first discovered in Britain.

The UK-detected mutation is more contagious, triggered various global travel bans against Britain, and caused massive lorry disruptions across the English Channel.

"What we understand is that we have increased transmissibility, in terms of its ability to spread," Maria Van Kerkhove from the World Health Organisation told the BBC last week.

The French health ministry confirmed late Friday evening that it had detected its first case of the new variant after someone had returned from the UK, spreading further alarm among member states.

France reported 8,822 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Sunday, compared to Saturday's 3,093.

The variant has since been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, hundreds of British tourists at the Swiss ski resort of Verbier have been ordered into quarantine.

Around half have reportedly gone into hiding.

"Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before they set off unnoticed under cover in the darkness," Jean-Marc Sandoz, a municipal spokesperson was cited as saying in the Deutsche Welle news agency.

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine roll-out this month

EU leaders regularly held video-conferences to coordinate the pandemic reaction last year, but countries and EU institutions recently began a blame-game over the sluggish roll-out of vaccines.

EU failing on tracking new Covid-19 variants, MEPs told

The majority of countries in Europe are falling short on tracking coronavirus variants. Only seven member states have increased genome sequencing to the level recommended for detecting and monitoring the emergence and dominance of these strains.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us