MADRID Coronavirus vaccines were being rolled out across the European Union, although some countries are facing criticism that the distribution and administration of the jabs is taking too long.FRANCE
French President Emmanuel Macron will lead a special government meeting on Monday to assess delays in the coronavirus vaccination campaign and how to speed up the roll out.
France had vaccinated just 516 people as of Jan. 1, even though 560,000 doses are available in the country.
The head of Frances High Health Authority, Dominique Le Guludec, acknowledged on Monday in a televised statement that the campaign in France has started slowly, but insisted the aim is to vaccinate the elderly and those with health concerns without putting them at risk.
We all want this pandemic to end, and I understand completely the impatience, Le Guludec told BFMTV.
You have to keep calm and prioritize, because if you vaccinate a lot of people but not the right ones, it will take months to reduce hospitalizations and deaths, she said.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran also held a discussion on Sunday afternoon with the regional heads of the National Health Agency to prepare for the acceleration of the vaccination campaign, especially across nursing homes.
Germany is considering delaying their coronavirus vaccine rollout to be able to reach more people with the limited doses available, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday.
The German Ministry of Health is mulling this and other measures to increase the number of immunized people in the short term, as the number of available vaccines is lower than expected.
Germany has received 1.34 million doses of the only EU-approved vaccine so far, produced by German BioNTech and American Pfizer.
The debate on the availability of the vaccine in Germany has heated up in recent days, with various media and opposition parties criticizing the shortage of doses in the country and blaming the German government and its decision to purchase the vaccine through the EU.
Despite the criticisms, Germany has distributed the highest total number of vaccines in the EU, although Denmark has a higher inoculation rate.
Controversy is also brewing in Italy over the perceived delays in some regions to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the northern region of Lombardy, one of the areas most affected by COVID-19, health counselor Giulio Gallera has come in for criticism after he attributed delays in administering the vaccines to healthcare workers because they were on holiday.
His comments have triggered a wave of condemnation of the local governments handling of the public health crisis, even from within his own far-right Lega Nord (Northern League) party.
The Lombardy region was one of the worst affected in the country during the first wave of the pandemic.
According to official figures, the number of vaccinated people in Italy had exceeded 100,000 by Sunday.
The national emergency manager, Domenico Arcuri, says it is essential to inoculate around 65,000 doses per day.
Italy plans to have 50 percent of its population vaccinated before the end of September.
The Hungarian government has ruled out using the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, citing supply problems.
In an interview on the national radio station Kossuth on Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ruled out using the Russian drug due to insufficient supply, adding that Hungary continues to negotiate with China, whose Sinovac vaccine drug is promising.
The Hungarian government was the only EU member to receive a sample of 6,000 Russian vaccines in November.
After receiving the first delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, Hungary began administering them immediately on Dec. 26, one day before the joint EU launch.
Frontline health workers will be first to receive the vaccine, then doses will be administered in aged-care homes and to those with severe illnesses.
So far, some 12,000 people have been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Hungary.
Bulgaria has received the second shipment of coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the countrys health minister said.
The batch of 25,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines against COVID-19, arrived at Sofia Airport in the early hours of Monday morning, with distribution to various vaccination points already under way.
This first phase is expected to be completed within two weeks and the second to start immediately, in which the vaccination of everyone interested from old peoples homes is planned, Konstadin Angelov said in a statement.
The good thing I can say is that the number of people willing to be vaccinated in all phases, as scheduled at the beginning, is increasing, Angelov said, reassuring Bulgarian citizens that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will receive a free vaccination.
Everything that is outlined in the vaccination plan will happen. There will be free vaccines for anyone who has voluntarily stated that they want one, he said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Bulgaria has reported a total of 203,501 coronavirus infections, with 7,678 deaths.
Portugal will begin vaccinating on Monday against COVID-19 in aged-care facilities.
This is the next step in the vaccination process that began on Dec. 27 and initially focused on health centers, administering a total of 16,701 doses, according to government data.
In this first phase, people over 50 years of age with health issues, users and staff of residential homes, frontline health workers and other critical service workers will receive the vaccine.
With a total of 10 million inhabitants, Portugal has had 7,118 deaths and 427,254 infections since the start of the pandemic.