Obstacle course to immunize Europe

European countries calmly follow their vaccination strategies against Covid-19 despite the ups and downs caused by delays in the delivery of doses that they have already paid for but have not taken the agreed path. While the political discussion turns sour and shameful, the health authorities have one objective in mind and do not deviate from it: next autumn the vaccination plan should be completed for the percentage of citizens that allows to speak of a social immunity sufficient to win the battle. Those older than 80 years admitted to residences, their caregivers and health personnel are the first to receive the injections. In spring immunization will be extended to all risk groups.

Belgium

Schedule is maintained despite delays

Belgium is scheduled to vaccinate its entire population (around 11 million) before September. The schedule is maintained despite the delays in the supply of the different sera, albeit with caution. Since January 5, with the first preparations from Pfizer / BioNTech, and with the entry of those from Moderna (January 18), the immunization process has been extended to all nursing homes, their care staff and first-class staff line from their hospitals. The week of January 18, 125,000 vaccines were administered, then the rate dropped to 71,000 due to cutbacks in deliveries and the prospect of having to administer the second dose. There was an acceleration in January to reach the largest possible number of people at risk, but there are precautions today to guarantee the second vaccine. According to official data, the first has reached 243,412 people, 2.12% of the population. Only 3,500 people have received the second dose.

Germany

The European Commission advises not to make reservations for the summer holidays

The vaccination process of the German population is limping due to the shortage of doses and the production problems of the different laboratories, some of them in German territory. Despite all this, the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, was satisfied on Friday with the progress to immunize the population and stressed that so far more than 3.5 million vaccines have been distributed, of which at least 2.2 millions have already been inoculated. Spahn stressed that in the first quarter of this year all those over 80 years of age who wish will have been vaccinated and that until mid-February the health authorities hope to have finished with the vaccination of the 800,000 sheltered in residences or nursing homes for the elderly throughout the country. The minister acknowledged, however, that initial plans to vaccinate the population of Germany are inevitably delayed by insufficient supply of vaccines.

Netherlands

Concern about the presence of the Brazilian mutation

In the Netherlands, the Government has decided to extend the interval between the two injections (set by the pharmaceutical companies as twenty-one days) to six weeks. Around 174,000 vaccines have been administered to date in the country. Health authorities have begun subpoenaing people between the ages of 85 and 90 who live independently, in a phase they hope to complete on February 5. In the Netherlands, the alarm has been raised due to the detection of at least one case of the Brazilian coronavirus mutation. And all peppered by violent riots (the most serious in 40 years) against a curfew that is defended as fundamental for a country with about a million infected people and that is close to 14,000 deaths.

a long line of people wait in the rain to get vaccinated in Naples.
a long line of people wait in the rain to get vaccinated in Naples. / Efe

Germany

Weighed down by production problems

The vaccination process of the German population is limping due to the shortage of doses and the production problems of the different laboratories, some of them in German territory. Despite all this, the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, was satisfied on Friday with the progress to immunize the population and stressed that so far more than 3.5 million vaccines have been distributed, of which at least 2.2 millions have already been inoculated. Spahn stressed that in the first quarter of this year all those over 80 years of age who wish will have been vaccinated and that until mid-February the health authorities hope to have finished with the vaccination of the 800,000 sheltered in residences or nursing homes for the elderly throughout the country. The minister acknowledged, however, that initial plans to vaccinate the population of Germany are inevitably delayed by insufficient supply of vaccines.

Austria

At the planned rate and with an eye on the elderly

In Austria, 250,000 doses had already been received last Friday to vaccinate the population, of which about 170,000 had been inoculated. Vienna concentrates its first efforts on the over 80s and health personnel. However, in the second phase that it hopes to start in February, it wants to focus on workers with relevant professions, starting with daycare workers and teaching staff in schools and colleges.

Italy

Waiting for 300,000 vials that take time to arrive

Italy has already given more than 1.7 million doses of the vaccine against Covid-19, which represents a rate of 2.8 per 100 inhabitants. The country has supplied the serums to most of its health workers and the elderly living in residences. He had planned to have started the campaign with those over 80, but delays in supplies by pharmaceutical companies have forced a delay in the vaccine schedule.

Austria

Health cuts do not stop the campaign

Despite the continuous cuts that its health system has suffered in the years of the financial crisis, Greece has already put 232,000 doses of the vaccine against Covid-19. This figure means having protected 2.2% of its population, a percentage slightly lower than the average for the countries of the European Union (2.4%). Although the Hellenic nation did not suffer just the first wave of the pandemic, the situation worsened after the summer and now hospitals are at the limit of their capacity, with almost 50% of the ICU places occupied by Covid-19 patients.

The Minister of Health, Vassilis Kikilias, expressed his concern last Wednesday about the delays in the delivery of vaccines by pharmaceutical companies. The Government is making an effort to ensure that the roads also reach the islands, where so far there have been fewer infections than in mainland Greece. This is how it tries to protect the population before the arrival of tourists in summer.

Stickers on a vaccination certificate confirm receipt of two doses of the antiviral from Pfizer-BioNTech in Zickhusen, Germany.
Stickers on a vaccination certificate confirm receipt of two doses of the antiviral from Pfizer-BioNTech in Zickhusen, Germany. / Reuters

France

A slow start effectively compensated

France has managed to regain lost ground, after numerous criticisms of the Government for the slow start of the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 compared to other European countries. Since last December 27, more than a million French people have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The Health Ministry foresees 2.4 million injections in February: one million first doses and 1.4 million second ones. In France, the vaccine is free.

The vaccination campaign began in nursing homes and was extended to medical personnel and people over 75 years of age living at home. At the end of February, they want to start immunizing those over 65 and starting in the spring, the rest of the population, in order of priority. Like other European countries, there are problems with the supply of vaccines but the Government has decided not to delay the second dose of the vaccine, unlike other European partners. In France, it will be given 28 days after the first injection.

The fact that there are fewer vaccines than planned has had an impact on the number of appointments scheduled to get vaccinated. 5% of those arranged for a first injection have had to be delayed a few days, according to data from the Ministry of Health, which ensures that none have been canceled due to lack of dose.

Russia

Mass vaccination for all citizens

Russia is making rapid progress in vaccinating its citizens, which began in December. It was aimed primarily at health and educational personnel, workers in the social sphere and people with chronic diseases. Then, on January 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered that five days later the mass vaccination of the population began. He said that Spútnik V “is the best vaccine in the world.” The drug is administered free of charge and its inoculation is voluntary. The Russian Ministry of Health hopes to be able to vaccinate 60% of Russians by 2021 and thus achieve herd immunity. The country has a population of almost 145 million people. So far, an estimated two million doses have been delivered and there are another two million ready to ship to health centers.

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