Europe’s Vaccination Program Running at Half the Pace of U.S.

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The European Union’s Covid vaccination drive showed no sign of picking up the pace over the past week and is still running at less than half the pace of immunizations in the U.S., according to weekly figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The 29 countries in the bloc and wider European Economic Area took delivery of 9.9 million doses over the week through March 14 and administered 9.1 million shots over the period, the ECDC said Thursday. That equates to about 1.3 million vaccinations a day compared to 2.5 million a day in the U.S., where the population is only about 70% as large.

The proportion of adults in the bloc who have received their first dose now stands at 9.8%, up 1.6 percentage points from the week before. The number rose by 1.7 points over the previous seven days. The data show that 4.3% of adults are now fully vaccinated, which has improved by 0.6 percentage points, the same increase as the week before.

Politicians across the bloc have said the program must speed up significantly if the EU is to meet its target of vaccinating at least 70% of people by the end of the summer and for restrictive economic measures to be eased. The report showed that the bloc has received 12.5 million doses that have yet to be administered, 1 million more than in the previous week.

“I’m not too concerned about the number,” Sam Fazeli, a pharmaceuticals analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a telephone interview. “You almost want to have some extra doses available, in case the next consignment doesn’t arrive and you need to give second doses. They should always have a stockpile.”

Fazeli estimated, based on conversations with pharmacists, that it may take as long as two weeks for shots to be administered once officials have taken delivery of the vaccines from the drug companies.

A separate EU document seen by Bloomberg suggested the backlog may be as much as 20 million shots. The EU has received about 70 million shots and administered around 50 million through March 16, the document showed.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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