Under the dual impact of the surge in cases and viral mutation, EU countries officially began to promote large-scale vaccination of COVID-19 vaccine on December 27 local time. Before that, vaccination had been started in the UK earlier this month.
Many European politicians regard the vaccination as a major victory. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen optimistic that by the end of 2021, the number of vaccines in the EU will exceed the total population of the EU, and that “Europe will be in a favorable position.”
However, on the first day of vaccination, many countries still had chaos. The EU has currently ordered 2 billion doses of vaccines, but most of them still need to be approved by the European Drug Administration (EMA). Coupled with price differences between countries during previous negotiations and cold chain transportation problems, the EU has delayed delivery when receiving vaccines. The governor of Bavaria, Germany, complained: “There are too few vaccines.”
On the other hand, many people also show distrust of vaccines. A poll cited by Reuters shows that the proportion of people willing to be vaccinated in France is about 54%, compared with 64% in Italy and Spain. In comparison, the proportion in China is 87%.
The European Union officially promotes vaccination, politicians: they will “get rid of” the pandemic
The European Union has launched a formal mass vaccination program for 450 million people in the region from the 27th local time. Like the United States and the United Kingdom, front-line medical staff and the elderly have become the main priority for vaccination.
At 8:30 a.m. on the same day, Araceli Hidalgo, a 96-year-old man in Guadalajara, Spain, became the first person in the country to be vaccinated. In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis was vaccinated against the first dose of the vaccine on live television. In Italy, doctors and nurses at the Spalanzani Hospital in Rome were the first to receive the vaccine.
Hungary took the lead, and front-line staff of the capital Budapest Hospital received the first vaccine on the 26th. The Netherlands said that they may not officially start vaccination until January 8, becoming the latest country in the EU to start vaccination.
The Washington Post said that despite Europe’s most resourceful health care system, many countries called on retired medical personnel to return to help before such a large vaccination plan, and some countries relaxed the conditions and regulations for vaccination. In addition to hospitals and nursing homes, the closed stadiums and conference centers have also become places for mass vaccinations.
Many politicians regard the mass vaccination as a victory. Von der Leyen on Twitter: “This is a touching moment of solidarity and by getting vaccinated we will get out of this pandemic.”
Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s coronavirus emergency commissioner, said on the 27th: “Today is a beautiful and symbolic day. All EU citizens started vaccinated together, the first ray of sunshine after a long night.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “We know that the pandemic will not disappear today, but vaccines are the beginning of the victory over the pandemic. Vaccines are ‘game changers’.”
French President Macron, who had previously contracted the novel coronavirus, tweeted: “We have a new weapon against the virus: a vaccine. We must once again stand firmly.
Problems occurred in multiple links, and the first day of vaccination was chaotic.
It should be noted that due to a series of negotiations, regulatory and transportation problems, the first day of vaccination in the EU can be called chaotic, and many countries can only receive very few vaccines.
Take Pfizer vaccine as an example. The UK and the United States submitted orders to Pfizer earlier this summer. The EU, on the other hand, did not issue orders until November because of the need to negotiate prices among 27 countries, which also led to differences in the number of the first vaccines received.
Reuters quoted a source familiar with the negotiations as saying: “Negotiating with 27 countries is not so easy. The advantage of doing so [negotiating] is that poorer countries can also get vaccinated, but the disadvantage is that it takes longer to do anything.”
Ultimately, the United States can get 2,000 of Pfizer’s initial 50 million vaccines. And the whole EU can only get 12.5 million copies.
The second is the regulatory problem. According to the official information of the European Drug Administration, Pfizer’s vaccine has passed the audit first and become the vaccine recommended by the European Union to promote vaccination. Modner’s vaccines are closely followed and are currently in the “conditional market use authorization” review stage. But AstraZeneca, as well as the vaccine of the Belgian company Jansen, are in the “rolling review” stage.
Reuters said that in order to make vaccination available to all people, the European Union has ordered more than 2 billion doses of vaccines, but most of them are candidates that have not yet been approved for use, including AstraZeneca’s products. By the end of this year, the EU will receive 12.5 million doses of vaccine, which can only vaccinate 6.25 million people under the two-dipt injection program.
Finally, the transportation of vaccines. Because the novel coronavirus vaccine uses new mRNA technology and must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, the distribution of the vaccine faces serious challenges.
In Germany, about 1,000 vaccines were not kept sufficiently low during transportation, so distribution activities were delayed in several cities.
Markus Soder, governor of Bavaria, Germany, told Bild on the 27th: “There are too few vaccines.” Bavaria has a total population of 13 million, but only 9,750 doses of vaccine were received on the 26th, and only 4,875 people were vaccinated.
Germany expects to receive 1.3 million Pfizer vaccines around the end of this year. By March next year, Germany expects to receive enough vaccines for 13% of the population.
People distrust the vaccine: someone gave me 10 million euros, but I won’t get the vaccine.
Reuters quoted a Ipsos survey of 15 countries in November, which showed that 54% of French people are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. In Italy and Spain, the figure is 64%, the United Kingdom is 79%, and China is 87%. A subsequent Ipsos survey showed that the proportion of French people willing to be vaccinated fell to 41%.
The survey shows that people in many countries, from France to Poland, are highly hesitant about vaccination, because traditional vaccine development takes more than a decade, not months. According to a 2013 study, the traditional method of making vaccines, which is to introduce weakened or dead viruses to stimulate the body’s immune system, takes an average of more than 10 years. It took nearly 18 years to develop a hepatitis B vaccine.
Ireneusz Sikorski from Poland told Reuters: “I don’t think any vaccine in history has been tested so quickly. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be vaccinated. But I won’t test an unproven vaccine on my kids or myself.”
Reuters said that the Polish people’s distrust of public institutions is deeply rooted. The survey shows that less than 40% of the people in the country currently plan to be vaccinated. On the 27th, only half of the medical staff signed up for the first round of vaccination in a hospital in Warsaw.
The Swedish people have relatively high trust in the government, and more than two-thirds of them want to be vaccinated. Nevertheless, some people still say no. Lisa Rumberg, 32, told The Washington Post: “If someone gives me 10 million euros, I won’t be vaccinated.”
The first Bulgarian people to get the vaccine, including frontline doctors, pharmacists, teachers and nursing home workers, fewer than one in five people plan to get the vaccine voluntarily, according to the independent polling agency Alpha Research.
However, Reuters commented that this general hesitation does not seem to take into account the scientific development in recent decades. Take Modena’s vaccine as an example. The mRNA technology used by the vaccine has developed from gene sequencing to the first human injection within 63 days.
Judging from the current vaccination situation, Pfizer and Modena vaccines have both had cases of severe allergies after vaccination. Pfizer vaccine, which was the first to obtain emergency use authorization, has caused at least six adverse reactions. Modena’s vaccine also showed allergy cases on the 24th.
In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation on the 19th that anyone who is allergic to the ingredients of Pfizer and Modena vaccines should not be vaccinated, and people with a history of severe vaccine or injection drug allergy should follow the doctor’s advice. People with a history of other allergies, such as oral medicines, food, pets, environment, etc., are still recommended for vaccination, but they need to observe the injection site for 30 minutes before leaving.