Vaccination: how can Europe step up the pace?

The front runners are Israel, the US, and the UK. These countries have made much faster progress in vaccinating their populations against the coronavirus than the countries of the EU. Observers look at why the European Union is lagging so far behind and discuss how the speed and acceptance of vaccination can be increased.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Less protectionism!

The EU and the UK should avoid a deadlock in their dispute about export bans, advises NRC Handelsblad:

“Protectionism won't lead to more vaccines. Export bans in an industry with internationally ramified production chains like the pharmaceutical industry are a recipe for tensions and even slower deliveries. Moreover, an export ban will quickly lead to escalation. ... There is a high risk that this outbreak will require vaccines for a long time to come to defy new variants; virologists are also working on the assumption that this outbreak will not be the last one. For the EU and the UK there is only one way out of this impasse: negotiation.”

Karjalainen (FI) /

Maintain the current strategy

A discussion is under way in Finland about giving priority to vaccination in those regions that are worst hit by the virus. Karjalainen doesn't think much of the idea:

“It would take at least a few weeks for the most severely affected regions to benefit from additional vaccinations, as considerable time would be needed to reroute the doses. ... According to current forecasts, people who are neither elderly nor belong to risk groups will be vaccinated from May onwards. Meaning that all adults could be vaccinated by the end of June. So this debate really only revolves around a few weeks from May to June at the most. Consequently those who are pushing this idea are simply grasping at straws - unless the idea is to change the sequence now, while the risk groups are still being vaccinated.”

Trud (BG) /

Numbers are the bottom line

The risks of side effects must not be exaggerated, Trud urges:

“According to Pfizer, one in ten people may experience pain at the injection site, headaches, dizziness, chills or fever. ... One in a hundred suffers from insomnia. ... Acute allergic reactions have only been observed in a few cases among millions of people who have been vaccinated. ... Let's compare these numbers with the current Covid-19 numbers in Bulgaria: according to official figures there were 327,770 registered cases on Sunday. So the probability of getting sick right now is 1 to 21.4. ... For those who fall ill, the probability of dying is 1 to 25.9. ... And do you know how many people who have fallen ill from Covid have suffered permanent damage - to their lungs, cardiovascular system, muscles, or brain? Let's get real here!”

Azonnali (HU) /

Greed is not exploitation

Economist Dávid Makó says the outrage over Boris Johnson's statement that the British vaccine success was due to greed and capitalism is unwarranted. He writes in Azonnali:

“Vaccine champion Johnson is right. The astonishment and incomprehension was especially evident among people - including click-hunting journalists - who have either never attended an economics lecture or didn't listen when they were there. Or if we want to be malicious: as always, they deliberately misunderstood his statement. ... The problem is that most of them equated greed with exploitation, that is, morally unacceptable gain at the expense of others. ... But feudalism is a thing of the past. ... Economic rationality and the pursuit of personal interests lead to a state of equilibrium from which everyone benefits in the long term.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

Responsibility lies not only with the politicians

Not only the choices made by political decision-makers must be called into question, Le Quotidien stresses:

“Despite the correct decision to give priority to residents and staff of nursing and retirement homes, it's increasingly worrying that more weight is being given to the status of those vaccinated than to their function. Consequently cleaning staff have not yet been vaccinated. ... Most disturbing, however, is the fact that medical personnel are still reluctant to have the jab. We can't blame the politicians alone for the non-respect of this moral obligation.”

Die Presse (AT) /

More government involvement not the answer

The public sector has proved far less effective than the private sector in dealing with the crisis, Die Presse comments:

“The desire for a stronger state is becoming increasingly mainstream among the population. And that's amazing. ... The US and UK are months ahead of us when it comes to vaccinating. ... If you take a closer look, you see a striking pattern: where top officials manage vaccines and organisations - at EU level and in the member states - little happens. Where managers from the private sector have played a key role - in the US and Britain - things are running like clockwork. ... Maybe the vaccination disaster should give us pause for thought before we call for more government involvement in the economy. ”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Capitalism saves lives

There is nothing wrong with Boris Johnson citing greed and capitalism as reasons for Britain's vaccination success, the Daily Telegraph argues:

“The calamity befalling the EU, meanwhile, has been caused in part by its distrust of capitalism. From the start of the pandemic, they treated Big Pharma with suspicion, rather than embracing it in the way that the English-speaking peoples, their allies, and other capitalist countries have done. It is surely no coincidence that, of the top five countries in the world in terms of percentage of population immunised, all five have broadly free market economies, whereas EU countries like France, Italy, Spain and Germany are languishing at 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th places respectively. Free market capitalism saves lives.”