EU activates vaccination drive amid threat of new coronavirus variant

The  European Union set in motion the first phase of its vaccination campaign over the weekend, after delivering doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to all 27 member countries of the EU.

On Sunday, vaccinations were carried out in Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Austria, Croatia, and Greece.

Other EU countries including Portugal, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Lithuania began vaccinating their populations on Saturday.

In Belgium and Luxembourg, vaccinations will start tomorrow, December 28.

Non-EU countries including the UK, Switzerland, and Serbia have already launched their vaccination campaigns.

The EU has so far secured over two billion doses of vaccines for its 450 million citizens and residents.

Priority access to vaccines will go to healthcare workers, people over 60 years of age, those whose state of health makes them particularly at risk, and essential workers outside the health sector.

Other priority groups include workers who cannot socially distance, vulnerable socio-economic groups, and other groups at higher risk.

Meanwhile, a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus continues manifesting in Europe and around the world.

First identified in the UK, the new variant has appeared in other European countries including the Netherlands, France, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.