A swath of EU nations begin vaccinating their most vulnerable groups Sunday as a reputedly more contagious coronavirus variant spread internationally and the WHO warned that the current pandemic would not be the last.
First doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in EU countries including hard-hit Italy, Spain and France on Saturday, ready for distribution to retirement homes and care staff.
The approval and roll-out of vaccines has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite from the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.7 million people since emerging in China late last year.
However, in a video message ahead of the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was time to learn the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life,” said Tedros.
“Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change that’s making our earth less habitable,” he added.
101-year-old woman vaccinated
Vaccinations in all 27 European Union countries had been set to begin from Sunday, after regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 21.
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