EU starts COVID-19 vaccine campaign


The campaign should ease frustrations that were building up, especially in Germany, as Britain, Canada and the United States kicked off their inoculation programs with the same vaccine weeks earlier.

The rollout began on Sunday, six days after the European Union approved the use of a vaccine developed by USA pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Argentina's Minister of Health, Gines González García, said on Twitter that the vaccination campaign will be carried out in an "equitable manner throughout the country".

In France, a 78-year-old woman received a shot at a hospital in a Paris suburb, becoming the first person in the country to do so.

The authorities in Slovakia also said they had begun vaccinating, as the three member states disrupted Brussels' plans for a co-ordinated rollout.

Passengers are required to present a negative PCR test result at the Ezeiza or San Fernando airports, which will be the only air terminals through which travelers can enter the nation, as well as a seven-day quarantine.

That differs from state guidelines, which allow only frontline health care workers, or staff and residents of nursing homes, to get the first batch of vaccines. In Prague, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis received his shot at dawn Sunday and asserted: "There's nothing to worry about".

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The vaccine is a glimmer of hope for a continent yearning for a return to normal from a pandemic that has killed 1.76 million people worldwide since emerging in China late past year and caused at least 80 million confirmed cases.

While that has spurred concern that testing, treatments and shots might not be as effective, officials at BioNTech and the European medicine regulator said they are optimistic the vaccine will work against the new strain.

A 96-year-old living in a care home in central Spain became the first person in the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday, in an event broadcast by national television.

France has a total of 2,550,864 COVID-19 cases, the fifth-highest tally in the world.

The mutant variant of the virus has appeared in countries including Germany, Japan, Australia, Singapore and Italy.

Poland is also prioritizing doctors, nurses and others on the front lines of fighting the virus.

It comes as cases of the new variant of coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom have been registered in France, Spain and Sweden.

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