European countries began administering COVID-19 vaccinations on Sunday as a new strain of the virus continued to spread throughout the continent.
Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain were among the first European countries to begin vaccinations, according to NBC News.
European Union regulators formally approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21.
“Today is finally a good day,” Italy’s coronavirus czar Domenico Arcuri said at a news conference on Sunday. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The first vaccinations against COVID-19 are beginning across the European Union today.
— European Commission ?? (@EU_Commission) December 27, 2020
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the country plans to distribute more than 1.3 million doses by the end of the year. France, meanwhile, ordered 63 million doses from the EU, which will be delivered intermittently by July 2021.
A new strain of the coronavirus was discovered in the U.K. on Dec. 19, prompting British leaders to impose additional lockdown measures.
The mutant strain could spread more quickly than previous strains, according to a U.K. government statement.
More than 40 countries have implemented rules restricting travel since the new strain was first reported.
Beginning Monday, the U.S. will require airline travelers coming from the U.K. to test negative for COVID-19 before flights, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.
Despite the travel restrictions, Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said Friday that the new strain had been detected in eight European countries.
BioNTech, the German company that partnered with Pfizer to develop the vaccine, said it believes the shots will be able to combat the new strain.
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