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Therese Raphael

Why Switzerland Trails West Virginia in Vaccines

Supply is only part of the picture. Efficient logistics and record keeping matter a lot too.

Where are the records?

Where are the records?

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

The European Union’s approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday will come as a relief to many governments. Britain will have vaccinated half its adult population by the end of this week, administering 40 vaccine doses per 100 people, while the EU average is around 12. The gap has become embarrassing, and the political atmosphere tense.

EU leaders have blamed a dearth of supply for their problems, but that’s only part of the picture. What’s less appreciated is how some of the world’s most vaunted health-care systems have done such a poor job of delivering the vaccines they do have. Supply shortages are temporary. If efficient vaccinations are to follow, we need a better understanding of what has held some systems back and propelled others forward.