A coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford is administered to a volunteer in Oxford, England. John Cairns / Oxford University / AP
A handful of countries have announced their plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines, some as early as mid-December.
Every booth is here:
Austria was the youngest country to announce a distribution plan when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced today that the country hopes to make the vaccine available to the elderly, caregivers and medical workers by January.
At a press conference in Vienna, Kurz thanked the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for procuring vaccines for European countries and called her a “game changer”.
The European Union has signed contracts with several drug manufacturers including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer to supply millions of vaccine doses.
Kurz said he believed Austria would return to “normalcy” by next summer.
Italy also announced on Monday that it hopes to distribute the vaccine by the end of January.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte spoke on Italian television channel La7 on Monday that the vaccine would be available first to the “fragile and most vulnerable” people.
Conte also said the vaccine will be given on a voluntary basis for now.
When asked if he would be vaccinated, Conte said he “definitely will” because if it is distributed it is “perfectly safe”.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn is optimistic that a vaccine could be available by December.
“There is reason to be optimistic that a vaccine will be approved in Europe this year. And then we can start vaccinations immediately,” said Spahn on Monday, according to CNN subsidiary NTV.
Spahn also said he has asked the country’s 16 regional states to set up vaccination centers by mid-December to await approval of the vaccine.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa expects to receive the country’s first coronavirus vaccine doses in January.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Illa unveiled the government’s plan that will prioritize the most vulnerable, which includes around 2.5 million people. Nursing home residents and staff will come first, followed by disabled and general health workers, he said.
The Spanish strategy aims to vaccinate a significant part of the population within the first six months of 2021. The plan is expected to be completed in three steps.
The first begins in January to March with a limited number of doses available, followed by a second phase in March to June when authorities expect to increase the number of vaccinations, with the last phase starting from June and expected to cover a wider one Segment of the population.
The health minister also said he was confident that his government’s plan would be able to provide vaccines across the country, noting that they had signed agreements that should allow 140 million doses
“According to the agreements we have signed, we estimate that Spain will receive 140 million doses to immunize around 80 million people. Obviously this (number) is higher than our country’s population.”
He said the vaccine is not mandatory and will be available for free.
The first Americans could get a coronavirus vaccine by December 11, according to Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of government efforts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.
On Friday, Pfizer filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. An FDA vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet on December 10th.
Slaoui told CNN that if approved, the vaccine could be launched the next day.
“Our plan is to have vaccines delivered to vaccination sites within 24 hours of approval, so I’m assuming it can be done on the second day after approval on December 11th or 12th,” he said.
U.K. health screechy Matt Hancock said in a statement Monday that once regulatory approval has been given, his national health service will be ready to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The NHS has extensive experience delivering comprehensive vaccination programs and a tremendous amount of work has been done to ensure we have the logistics, transportation and manpower to deliver a vaccine at clinical priority at speed that it can be made with, “Hancock said.
The UK is projected to receive a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine by the end of 2021 – which is “enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses expected in the first half of next year,” according to it a statement from the Ministry of Health on Monday.
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is only approved for delivery by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) “if it meets strict quality, safety and efficacy standards and if they are satisfied the vaccine can be consistently manufactured,” said.