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The European Union has begun rolling out a coronavirus vaccine amid supply concerns

The European Union has begun rolling out a coronavirus vaccine amid supply concerns

At 8.30am in Guadalajara, Spain, Araceli Hidalgo, a 96-year-old nursing home resident, became the first person to be vaccinated in the country. In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis was vaccinated live on television.

“This is a moving moment of unity,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen He tweeted on Saturday Before starting the vaccination program. “With vaccination, we will put this epidemic behind us.”

But there was growing frustration as Europeans watched the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine, which was developed in Germany with funding from the German federal government, being rolled out first in a series of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The bloc has ordered more than two billion doses of the vaccine as it aims to protect all its citizens from them Corona Virus, Has limited orders from the advanced candidates.

“Simply put, there is very little vaccine,” Markus Söder, Prime Minister of the German state of Bavaria, He told Bild newspaper On Sunday.

The 200 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine requested by the European Union will be split evenly between each member state according to population size, meaning that Germany, which has 18 percent of the bloc’s population, will receive about 36 million doses – enough to vaccinate 18 million people That is, just over 20 percent of its population.

But the companies said delivery timeframes depend on when the applications are submitted, and while the United States and the United Kingdom placed orders for the vaccine earlier in the summer, the European Union finished its order only in November after months of negotiations.

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This means that while the United States has a smaller initial request for Pfizer vaccines, it will receive 20 million of an initial batch of 50 million available at the start of the year, compared to 12.5 million for the European Union.

A person familiar with the negotiations, who asked not to be named to discuss the closed deliberations, said the delay in the request was mostly due to bargaining over the price.

This person said, “Negotiating with 27 countries is not that easy.” The advantage is that poor countries will also receive the vaccine. The downside is that everything takes longer. “

Committee spokesman Stefan de Kiersmaker said he could not comment on the negotiations, but the goal was to build a diversified portfolio with different companies and talks began before the trial results emerged. He said: “There was no certainty that any of the candidate vaccines would be effective and safe,” adding that the contracts allow for the expansion of options for applications.

However, while the United Kingdom and the United States have already used their options to order more vaccines, the European Union did not sign a contract for an additional 100 million doses until Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. This is despite rShe indicates that she reached an internal decision To do this more than a week ago.

Despite the decision to show solidarity with the launch of a standardized vaccine, Hungary, Slovakia and Germany began vaccination the day before. Karsten Fischer, in charge of the local health authority in the Harz region of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, told German media that he had seen no reason to wait after the vaccines arrived.

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Quentin Ares from Brussels contributed.