Hungary stole a march on its fellow EU nations as it began vaccinating its people against COVID-19 a day ahead of rollouts in several other countries including France, Germany and Spain as the pandemic surges across the continent. This is reported by Reuters.
Mass vaccination across the European Union, home to almost 450 million people, would be a crucial step towards ending a pandemic that has killed more than 1.7 million around the world, crippled economies and destroyed businesses and jobs.
Hungary administered the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, to frontline workers at hospitals in1the capital Budapest after receiving its first shipment of enough doses to inoculate 4,875 people.
The first worker to receive the shot was Adrienne Kertesz, a doctor at Del-Pest Central Hospital.
Hungary has reported 315,362 COVID-19 cases with 8,951 deaths. More than 6,000 people are still in hospital with COVID-19, straining the central European country’s care system.
“We are very happy that the vaccine is here,” Zsuzsa and Antal Takacs, a couple aged 68 and 75, said while playing table tennis in a Budapest park.
“We will get the vaccination because our daughter had a baby in France last month and we want to go see them. We do not dare travel before we get the vaccine,” Zsuzsa said.
The Hungarian rollout came a day before countries including France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Spain are planning to begin mass vaccinations, starting with health workers.
The distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which was first rolled out in Britain earlier this month, presents tough challenges. The vaccine uses new mRNA genetic technology, which means it must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of around -80 degrees Celsius.