European Union countries began administering the first COVID-19 vaccine doses over the weekend. Health authorities are prioritizing high-risk groups, as only a limited number of doses are expected to be available in the early stages of the rollout.
"Mass vaccinations will likely start in March or even April," Tobias Kurth, epidemiologist and director of the Institute of Public Health at Berlin's Charite Hospital, told DW.
Many people are hopeful that vaccinations are the key to society reaching so-called herd immunity, where enough of the population is protected from the virus that day-to-day life can return to some semblance of normality after months of pandemic-related restrictions.
Kurth stressed that assuring the public the vaccine is "safe and very effective" was crucial, "as we need about 70% of the population vaccinated before we reach herd immunity."
Here is an overview of which countries have begun their vaccination campaigns, and which are still in the works.
The UK was the first country in the world to approve the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, and began administering doses on December 8.
The European Union launched its vaccine campaign on December 27, in what leaders across the bloc dubbed "V-Day." The EU is due to receive 12.5 million doses by the end of the year, with the ultimate goal of reaching 450 million people across its 27 member states over the course of 2021. In addition to the BioNTech-Pfizer jab already being administered, the bloc has secured contracts with drugmakers Moderna and AstraZeneca.
Germany officially kicked off its COVID vaccine rollout on Sunday, though health workers began administering the first doses on Saturday. Around 150,000 doses of the jab, which was developed by BioNTech-Pfizer and received EU approval on December 21, have arrived in the country, to be distributed among 400 vaccination centers.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun, a trained emergency room doctor, has helped vaccinate medical staff in central Germany.
Braun tweeted that he vaccinated intensive care workers at the University Hospital in Giessen, the region he represents in parliament. He went on to tell German broadcaster n-tv that he wanted to take part in the process as a sign of appreciation "but also to get a feeling myself for how the vaccination process works."
In France, President Emmanuel Macron hailed the milestone. "We have a new weapon against the virus: the vaccine," he tweeted.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was "touched" by the vaccine rollout. "Soon we'll have enough doses for all of us," she tweeted.
Belgium and Latvia on Monday joined the growing list of EU countries to embark on the vaccination process.
In Belgium, a 101-year-old resident of a home for the elderly was the first person in the Brussels area to receive the vaccine, followed by four other residents.
Doctors and nurses were the first in line in Latvia, with medical staff at the university hospital in Riga among the early batch to receive the BioNTech-Pfizer jab.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, has said it will not start vaccinations until January 8.
Outside of the EU, Switzerland and Serbia have also begun giving out the COVID-19 vaccine. Switzerland launched its campaign on December 23 after approving the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. Serbia kicked off its inoculations on Christmas Eve, with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic first in line as part of an effort to allay the fears of a generally skeptical population.
Iceland on Monday received its first batch of vaccines, the day before it planned to begin inoculating its population.
The almost 10,000 doses of the vaccine produced by BioNTech-Pfizer will be administered initially to health care workers and nursing home employees.
"Today is a day of good news. There are many lessons that we can learn from the COVID pandemic, but the most important one is that we are stronger together," Health Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir told reporters. "I wish you could all see the smiles under these masks."
Turkey will obtain the first shipment of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine from China before Thursday this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of Sinovac's vaccine and had expected the first delivery of 3 million doses on Monday, but there was a slight delay in its arrival. It will also procure 4.5 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer version, with an option to acquire a further 30 million doses.
While the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine was given approval in the West after authorities reviewed Phase III trial data, Russia has been inoculating its population for months using its Sputnik V vaccine. It began administering doses in August, saying the jab was 91.4% effective based on interim late-stage trial results. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far.
More than 1 million Americans have been vaccinated since the US launched its campaign on December 14. The country is by far the world's hardest hit in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 330,000 deaths. In addition to the BioNTech-Pfizer jab, US authorities have also approved one developed by American firm Moderna.
Canada began vaccinations on December 14, and expects to have 1.2 million doses from BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna available by the end of January.
Mexico administered its first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine on December 24.
Argentina has approved Russia's Sputnik vaccine for emergency use.
India plans to begin using the Sputnik V vaccine next year.
Chinese authorities launched an emergency use vaccine program in July targeted at essential workers and others at high risk of infection. By mid-November, around 1 million people had been inoculated. China has at least five vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials.
Both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have approved China's Sinopharm vaccine.
Wealthy countries have already snapped up most of the Western-developed vaccines expected to be produced next year, and much of the developing world is hoping Chinese alternatives can fill the gap.
A map in a previous version of this article misidentified Chile as Argentina. This map has now now been removed. The department apologizes for the error. (January 22, 2021)
dr, jsi/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)