Nurses preparing vaccines at a nursing home in Spain last week.
Credit…Manu Brabo/Getty Images

The European Union has been besieged by problems since it approved its first coronavirus vaccine in December and rushed to begin a vast immunization campaign, but now its woes have snowballed into a full-blown crisis.

With the pain of supply shortages being felt across Europe, Spain on Wednesday became the first E.U. country to partly suspend immunizations for lack of doses. It announced that it would suspend the vaccination program in Madrid for two weeks, and warned that Catalonia may follow suit.

“Tomorrow our fridges will be empty,” said Josep Maria Argimon, a regional health official in Catalonia, referring to the dwindling supplies of vaccine.

Tensions were also raised by an escalating dispute with AstraZeneca over the drugmaker’s announcement that it would slash deliveries of its vaccine by 60 percent because of production shortfalls.

When the European Union approved its first vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, in December, it was already weeks behind rich nations like the United States and Britain.

While it is

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