(Reuters) -Germany’s BioNTech said it was preparing to send 12.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed with U.S. drugs giant Pfizer to European Union countries by the end of the year.
EU member countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy plan to start vaccinations from Dec. 27 as Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain, where inoculations began earlier this month.
The vaccine won regulatory clearance for use on people over 16 years old from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday.
The regulator in Switzerland, which is not an EU member, approved the vaccine at the weekend.
Following are plans for the European rollout:
The Swiss started selected vaccinations of especially vulnerable people on Dec. 23, as the Swiss military distributed the first instalment of 107,000 shots.
The government aims to provide a free inoculation to everyone who wants one by mid-2021.
An initial 150,000 or so doses are due to be delivered on Dec. 26 to allow authorities to start the first vaccinations in elderly care homes the following day, with further doses due later in the week.
More than two million doses, enough to vaccinate more than one million people under the two-dose regimen, will be delivered by the end of the first week of January.
On Dec. 26, 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will leave Belgium bound for the Spallanzani hospital in Rome with vaccinations set to begin on Dec. 27.
Subsequent Pfizer doses will be delivered directly to 300 administration sites across Italy.
France plans to start its vaccination programme on Dec. 27, prioritising the most vulnerable members of the population, such as the elderly.
Formal approval from the French medical regulator, which is needed for roll-out to start, was issued on Dec. 24.
The first batch of shots will be delivered to the city of Guadalajara in central Spain, where vaccination will begin on Dec. 27. The country will receive 350,000 doses per week of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine starting Dec. 26.
The first shots on Dec. 27 will be given to frontline health workers from five big hospitals: two in Lisbon, two in Porto and one in Coimbra. About 80,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses will be delivered by year-end.
Austria, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania and Czech Republic have announced plans to start to vaccinate citizens two days after Christmas.
Romania expects an initial 10,000 doses to be distributed across 10 hospitals. Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria expect similar volumes for their initial deliveries.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he expects vaccinations to start on Dec. 27 or Dec. 28, and that Hungary’s first vaccine shipment will be enough to inoculate about 35,000 people.
Vaccinations are expected to begin on Dec. 28.
The Netherlands will begin inoculations on Jan. 8, health minister Hugo de Jonge said last week.
“We have opted for a planning that is careful, safe and responsible,” De Jonge said in a letter to parliament.
Sweden and Norway are each expecting an initial batch of 10,000 shots. Norway will focus on deploying nursing homes.
Denmark expects to have enough shots initially to vaccinate the 40,000 people living in nursing homes and then priority will be given to those with high risk of illness or healthcare staff.
Iceland will receive 10,000 doses around New Year.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received Serbia’s first COVID-19 vaccine shot on Dec. 24. Some 4,875 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccines were flown in on Dec. 22.
(Reporting by Reuters buros;Compiled by Keith Weir and Josephine MasonEditing by Mark Heinrich and Mark Potter)