Just over 3 per cent of people in the EU have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine – compared to more than 15 per cent of the UK population.
The slow rollout of vaccinations across the continent – caused by supply issues – last week led the EU to threaten export controls on vaccines produced within its borders. The EU Commission signalled that it would block the movement of vaccines across the Northern Irish border through the extraordinary triggering of Article 16 – before withdrawing hours later following condemnation from both Dublin and London.
While the root cause of the EU’s slow vaccine rollout is supply, some countries are performing better than others. In terms of the raw numbers of doses, Germany is leading the way, having administered 2.7 million jabs. It is followed by Italy (2.2 million), Spain (1.8 million) and France (1.7 million).
But once population size is factored in, the picture is negative for most Europeans – small countries such as Malta (6.8 doses per hundred people) Denmark (5.0) and Ireland (4.0) lead the way, with Spain the best performing large European country (3.8). France (2.5) and the Netherlands (1.8) are among the worst performing European countries.
By comparison, the UK has provided 10.5 million doses in total – equivalent to 15.5 percent of its population – and looks set to meet its target of vaccinating the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February.
If the UK’s vaccine rollout has proportionally been five times faster than the EU’s so far, the same could be said of Israel’s rollout in comparison to the UK. The former has injected 60.1 doses per every 100 people – four times the UK figure. From today, anyone over the age of 16 in Israel will be able to receive a vaccine.
Which parts of the UK have seen the most vaccinations?
There are differences in rollout speed within the UK. England is leading the way, with 15.4 per cent of people having received their first dose as of 2 February. Local data from last week shows parts of London are lagging behind – with just 9 per cent of south-east Londoners having received one dose by 31 January (and just 70 per cent of those over the age of 80).
By contrast, Gloucestershire had seen 95 per cent of its over-80s receive their first dose, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire 94 per cent as of 31 January.
Wales stands at 14.7 per cent, while Northern Ireland has seen 13 per cent of people vaccinated at least once. In Scotland, just 12 per cent of people have received a first dose – though this still places it among the most vaccinated countries globally. You can check the proportion of people that have been vaccinated in your area using our local vaccination map here.
EU politicians have attempted to cast its relatively slow pace in a positive light – with former secretary general Martin Selmayr last week comparing the continent’s rollout to Africa’s. As the New Statesman has already reported, the vast majority of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide have taken place in high-income countries, while only this week Nepal became the first low-income country to start vaccinating its population. You can compare figures between nations using our global tracker here.
This is not positive for the EU, or indeed the UK. As new cases of the dangerous South African strain being discovered in the UK demonstrated, allowing Covid-19 to spread unchecked in any part of the world is a problem for everyone, not just the people living there. In the long term, comparisons between different countries on vaccine speed don’t matter as much – as there is no such thing as Covid-19 in one country.