The European Union has also failed to meet the planned dose distribution schedule, in this case due to supply failures by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which delivered 70 million fewer doses than promised. Brussels hopes to relaunch vaccination campaigns in member states in April and reach the target of 70 percent of the adult population vaccinated by the end of the summer. In June, more than 350 million doses arrive.
Data from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), revealed by the Spanish newspaper The country, show that theOnly 27 percent of the population over 80 has already received the two doses required to obtain immunity.
According to the same data, only four of the 27 Member States have exceeded the 80 per cent threshold (Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden) and two others (Denmark and Portugal) are about to do so. In Spain, which did not provide ECDC with figures, just over a third of the population over the age of 80 received two doses of the vaccine and 70 percent received only one.
With regard to health professionals, ECDC has little data, as only 13 countries have sent this information. These data indicate that 47 percent of the professionals have already received the two doses and about 61 percent the first.
The slow process of vaccination campaigns is causing concern in most Member States. Mainly taking into account the fast pace in other countries, in particular in the United States and the United Kingdom, where 50 percent and 7.8 percent of the population, respectively, have already received the two doses of the vaccine. In the European Union, this figure was around six percent at the end of the first quarter.
“By the end of this week, 107 million doses will have reached the Member States,” announced today the European Commission’s deputy spokeswoman, Dana Spinant. A number that is far from the more than 160 million doses expected.
This is despite the fact that BioNTech and Moderna, two of the pharmaceutical companies contracted by the Commission, fulfilled the expected supplies, with 67.5 and 9.8 million, respectively. AstraZeneca delivered only 29.7 million, far from the almost 100 million pledged.
The lack of doses was coupled with the hesitation of some national authorities on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which in several countries has been restricted to certain age groups, despite the European Medicines Agency considering it safe for all ages. The combination of problems surrounding the Anglo-Swedish laboratory has left the European Union very far from the objectives it had set out at the beginning of the vaccination campaigns, on 27 December.
“Of course, we know it could have been faster if all the pharmaceutical companies had fulfilled their contracts,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“Substantial increase in production”
Despite the initial delays, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, responsible for redirecting the campaigns, considers that there is already “a substantial increase in production”. And on Wednesday he was convinced that “In mid-July we will be in a position to deliver sufficient doses to all Member States to obtain collective immunity, provided that, of course, they are administered”.
Already European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, expects “deliveries to triple in the coming months”. And he considers the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population (365 million inhabitants) before the end of the summer, that is, 255 million people “achievable”.
Community sources estimate that by the end of June, about 60 percent of the adult population will already be vaccinated in the four states with the most population (Germany, France, Italy and Spain).
The European Commission attributes much of the credibility of the success of national campaigns to the fact that it was organized in a centralized manner. The community body took on the task of negotiating the price and number of doses with the various pharmaceutical companies to ensure that all countries received the vaccines at the same time, regardless of their size or wealth.
Brussels successfully closed this first phase and made available to the 27 Member States a total of 2300 million doses negotiated with five laboratories, of which four (BioNTech, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZenaca and Janssen) are already authorized and one (Curevac) is waiting for the green light from Brussels.
According to the European Commission, the second quarter will allow a substantial increase in the pace of distribution, with 200 million doses from BioNTech / Pfizer, 55 million from Janssen and 35 million from Moderna. AstraZeneca will fail again and is only planning to deliver 70 million of the 180 million committed.
Even so, Brussels estimates that States will receive about 360 million doses of the vaccine and recalls that Janssen’s needs only one dose to be effective, which will help to speed up the number of people inoculated.
Brussels sources also highlight the success of the vaccine developed by the German laboratory BioNTech in collaboration with the North American company Pfizer. The product, dubbed Comirnaty, has become an essential part of vaccination campaigns in Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The success of the new mRNA technology drove BioNTech, which in the last quarter of 2020 multiplied its turnover by 12 compared to the previous quarter. The small company, founded in 2008, could become one of the biggest European business successes of recent years if the production and use of the vaccine do not suffer any setback.
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