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Greece Gets First Batch of US Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

ATHENS - After receiving a first batch of a COVID-19 vaccine from the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, Greece now will get 240,000 doses from the Boston-area firm Moderna.

Only about 95,000 vaccines had come out of the millions that the New Democracy had earlier said it would get, causing a slow rollout for a campaign to inoculate 70 percent of the population, the health officials said was needed to be effective.

The Moderna vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech, is said to be about 95 percent effective as the government awaits for European Union approval of the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca vaccine that’s only 70 percent effective.

Like the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Moderna’s vaccine requires two injections spaced out over several weeks to reach maximum effectiveness although it can be stored at refrigerator temperatures while the other needs to be kept at -72 degrees Celsius, about -161.6 Fahrenheit all during the distribution chain. 

Meanwhile, German authorities in Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg say they’re holding off on using the first batch of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine over concerns it may have spoiled by not being kept cold enough during transport.

Berlin health authorities said Wednesday that the state’s first 2,400 doses of the vaccine arrived as planned on Tuesday but that after initial quality control assessments, there are “doubts as to whether the vaccine was transported and refrigerated properly.” Both the carrier and the manufacturer are being asked for clarification.

Officials say, planned vaccinations will go ahead using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The Brandenburg Health Ministry told the dpa news agency that it was also holding off using its first 2,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine over the same concerns. It was not immediately clear whether the Berlin and Brandenburg deliveries were made by the same truck.

Nearly 65,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Germany on Monday and were being kept at a military facility in Quakenbrueck in the west of the country. From there, boxes were being distributed by truck to Germany’s 16 states.

No other problems were immediately reported, and the state of Saxony-Anhalt already started using the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, dpa reported.