Europe has started vaccinating against Covid-19. With infections soaring across the continent, key workers and vulnerable groups are finally getting the jab. However, critics argue the EU has been too slow rolling out the vaccine, trailing behind the US, UK, and Israel.
While Israel (admittedly with a much smaller population than countries like France, Germany, Italy, etc.) has already vaccinated roughly 15-20% of its citizens, many EU Member States have only just begun the process.
After the first week of vaccinations, Germany had inoculated less than 1% of its population, while France had given the jab to only 530 (!) people.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands holds the dubious honour of being the last EU country to start vaccinations (partly because the Dutch government had assumed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would be the first approved by the European Medicines Agency).
Some Member States are clearly struggling with the unprecedented logistics of mass inoculation programmes, particularly for vaccines requiring complex and super-cold storage requirements like Pfizer-BioNTech’s.
At the same time, there are manufacturing bottlenecks in place. The European Commission is responsible for negotiating orders of vaccine in bulk on behalf of Member States (though it is up to individual countries to actually get needles in arms and decide who should get the vaccine first). Rather than gambling on any single vaccine being approved first (and being effective), the Commission purchased a diversified portfolio of over 2 billion doses of vaccines from six producers.
However, this strategy means the EU is now struggling to catch up with the two vaccines that have been approved so far. In order to catch up, the EU has just purchased an additional 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (nearly half the firm’s global output for 2021) but manufacturing bottlenecks mean production will take time.
Has Europe’s vaccine rollout been too slow? Why is the EU lagging behind the US, UK, and Israel in inoculating its citizens from Covid-19? Will the European Union catch up as manufacturing bottlenecks are overcome? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!