Europe launches mass vaccination program Covid-19, while countries want new variant

The pilot, Samy Kramer, invited people on his Instagram account to follow his flight in a two-seater plane on the website FlightRadar24.

The air traffic detection site reported that the flight took off from Friedrichshafen, near Lake Constance in southern Germany, on December 23 and lasted one hour and 44 minutes.

The European Union (EU) has officially launched its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, days after the December 21 approval of the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

“The … vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter on Saturday.

The Commission declared “EU vaccination days” on 27, 28 and 29 December, which, according to von der Leyen, is “a moving moment of unity.” She added that: “Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic.”

The first people to receive doses of the vaccine were mostly elderly or medical workers at the front.

In France, a 78-year-old woman named Mauricette was the first to receive the vaccine, according to a tweet from Aurélien Rousseau, the director general of the Ile-de-France health agency. Mauricette, a former housekeeper, received the vaccine at a public hospital in the greater Paris area.

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Italy – once the European epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic – also administered its first doses of the vaccine on Sunday.

Professor Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, a virologist at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, was one of the first to get it. Capobianchi is part of the team that first isolated the virus in Italy.

A doctor and a nurse were also one of the first group to get the jab.

Dr Alessandra D’Abramo was working at the institute when Italy’s first two coronavirus patients – a Chinese couple – were hospitalized there on January 30.

“It’s a great day, because after a long time of great work in the department, it’s a day of hope and I’m so proud of it,” she told CNN shortly after receiving the injection. “The vaccine has been approved by the FDA, the EMA and AIFA – the Italians [regulator] – so I think it is safe and effective, ‘she added.

A 96-year-old nursing home resident received his first vaccination in Spain. Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, born in 1924, received her dose on Sunday in a care home in Guadalajara, near Madrid.

The second person in the country to receive a vaccine was a staff member at the same home, nursing assistant Mónica Tapias.

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The Czech Republic took a different approach – the first dose of the vaccine was given to Andrej Babiš, the country’s prime minister, while war veteran Emilia Řepíková gave the second dose.

Babiš has come under fire in recent months after cases of coronavirus increased in the country.
The prime minister was initially reluctant to impose stricter rules on the population, citing the need to protect the country’s economy, but the decision led to the virus spreading widely. Eventually restrictions were applied and Babiš apologized.

While the EU officially launched its vaccination program on Sunday, some countries started vaccinating people a day earlier – doses were administered in Germany and Slovakia on Saturday.

The deployment of vaccines comes as European governments contain the distribution of a new Covid-19 variant first detected in the UK.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is continuing the ongoing review of other promising vaccine candidates, including those from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and from Johnson & Johnson.

CNN’s Barbie Nadeau, Nicola Ruotolo, Atika Shubert, Ya Chun Wang and Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.