Nyma E., Global News Editor
As the spread of the COVID-19 worsens across the EU, many people have been forced into a second lockdown. However, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is offering a glimmer of hope to the 27 nations that comprise the EU.
The European Commission, the Executive Branch of the European Union, approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people above the age of 16 on December 21. The bloc has been criticized for being too slow to approve the vaccine, as many other nations, such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, had already approved the vaccine and began inoculations. The approval of the vaccine came as more than 310,000 lives have been lost in the EU due to the virus, and as a new, more contagious strain of the virus was found in the UK. The vaccine is still believed to be effective with this novel strain of the virus.
Vaccinations in the EU began on the 27th, however, the mass vaccination campaign began on the 28th. These first doses given are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the EU has ordered 300 million doses of. The bloc has also negotiated contracts with other vaccine suppliers and has also procured vaccines for non-member countries, such as Iceland and Norway. EU leaders want residents to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. However, getting out the millions of doses ordered will take months. In addition to this, poorer nations of the EU, such as Romainia, will have a harder time distributing the vaccine.
Vaccinating the elderly and their caretakers has been the main focus of the start of the EU’s vaccine campaign. At the beginning of the pandemic, nursing homes in the EU were hit especially hard, with many residents losing their lives to the virus. Many elderly citizens of the EU were vaccinated on December 27th, before mass inoculations began the next day.
The vaccine is given in two doses, 21 days apart, with the second dose acting as a booster. Side effects of the vaccine are mild. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at -70° C before shipping, on arrival,m it must be kept between 2°C and 8°C to remain effective.
Because the vaccine has to be stored at this specific temperature, the delivery of new batches of the vaccine has already been delayed to 8 member nations of the EU. These places include Spain and many cities in Germany. There have been issues with shipping the vaccine, mainly, making sure that the vaccine is kept at the right temperature.