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Europe’s Vaccine Nightmare Is Coming to An End

Updated on May 14, 5:42 AM EDT

What You Need To Know

After a sluggish start, the European Union’s vaccination campaign finally picked up the pace. By mid-May, the EU’s rate of vaccination was broadly in line with the U.S. and the U.K. after having trailed both for months. It also clinched a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for a further 1.8 billion doses through to 2023 and hopes to conclude negotiations with the U.S. biotechnology company Novavax soon.

Major member states, including Italy, France and Germany, are now inoculating hundreds of thousands people a day.

With the EU now in a double dip recession and with most of the continent still facing restrictions, the latest data will be most welcome after the EU dealt with a slow vaccine rollout.

Unlike Britain and the U.S., the EU’s procurement efforts didn’t prioritize domestic deliveries first. As of March, some 77 million doses were exported from the EU to 33 countries, in addition to millions of jabs for lower income countries through the Covax facility. Since January, the EU introduced rules whereby companies need permission to export. So far, only one delivery has been blocked.

As national governments pick up the pace of their inoculation campaigns, the EU is still hoping to hit its target of inoculating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer.

By The Numbers

  • 31.5 million The number of Covid cases in the EU and the European Economic Area as of May 14, according to the ECDC.
  • 213 million The number of vaccines delivered to the EU as of May 14.
  • 180 million The number of shots administered by EU member states as of this week.

Why It Matters

The EU’s slower vaccine rollout means that plans to reopen the bloc’s economies will trail behind the U.S. and the U.K., potentially adding billions more to the cost of recovering from months of lockdown.

Any further delays also risk fuelling political instability and anti-EU sentiment as national politicians shift the blame to Brussels. Further risks are heightened trade spats between allies, making it more difficult to focus efforts on cooperating on other common challenges, piling more pressure on industries that are hoping Europe opens up soon.

    The challenge is ensuring improved pandemic performance doesn’t go to waste.