London: Around 70 per cent of adults in the European Union have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, EU officials said, a milestone that puts the bloc among the world’s leaders in vaccinations despite a sluggish start earlier this year and worrying discrepancies among member states.
After a fumbling start, the European Union overtook the United States in vaccinations last month, as rollouts taken together across the bloc’s 27 countries grew at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. Tuesday’s announcement marked the meeting of a self-set deadline that once seemed far out of reach. In January, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said that “by summer 2021, member states should have vaccinated a minimum of 70 per cent of the adult population.”
Having met the target means that at least 255 million people have received either two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines, or one shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab, Reuters reported.
While the vaccination rate slowed last month, it has yet to reach a ceiling that some experts and officials feared it would hit over the northern summer. Taking children and teenagers into account, more than 55 per cent of the overall EU population has been fully vaccinated, compared with 52 per cent in the United States, 61 per cent in Israel, and 64 per cent in Britain.
Those figures, however, mask wide differences between EU countries — ones that the authorities in Brussels may struggle to address because each member country runs its own vaccination campaign.
Malta has fully vaccinated more than 90 per cent of its adult population, data from the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency, showed Reuters reported.
And while more than 80 per cent of adults have been fully inoculated in Belgium, Denmark and Portugal, and more than 75 per cent in Spain and the Netherlands, the figure falls to 45 per cent in Latvia, 31 per cent in Romania and 20 per cent in Bulgaria.
“The pandemic is not over,” said Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, as she celebrated the milestone. “We need more. I call on everyone who can to get vaccinated.”