COVID vs. Easter: Holiday Slows Down Europe‘s Already ‘Unacceptably Slow’ Vaccine Rollout

Written by | Monday, April 5th, 2021

Vaccinations against COVID-19 will continue in Spain over the Easter period as coronavirus case have reached another daily high 8,534 COVID-19 infections and 154 related deaths, placing the country in the highest risk level. With the arrival of 1 million vaccine doses Wednesday (31 March) evening, the country’s immunisation campaign will continue in all regions over the Easter break. Spanish authorities have called on the country’s regional governments to “rigorously and strictly” respect the extraordinary measures, such as nightly curfews or travel restrictions among regions, over the Easter break. According to the health ministry’s data, about 2.7 million people, or 5% of the Spanish population have so far been vaccinated. In contrast, some German states are pausing vaccinations over the long Easter weekend, laying the blame on supply and logistical issues.
This news comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm that just 10% of the Europe’s total population of 900 million have received one dose of vaccine and only 4% have been fully inoculated. Against the backdrop of a “worrying” surge in coronavirus infections, the UN health agency has warned of Europe’s “unacceptably slow” rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, which was in turn “prolonging” the pandemic. “Vaccines present our best way out of this pandemic. Not only do they work, they are also highly effective in preventing infection,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said. WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries – including all 27 EU member states, the UK, Russia, Israel and several Central Asian nations. While a handful of these states such as Israel and the UK have high vaccination rates, many others have struggled to make headway.
EU member states, in particular, have been plagued by vaccine delivery delays, production bottlenecks and political blunders. A shortage in vaccine supply was the bloc’s “primary problem”, according to Professor David Taylor of the University College London, but “this should be resolved in the coming three-six months as existing producers gain increased expertise and new vaccines become available.” According to Taylor, immunisation efforts in the wider region have also been hampered by “Europe’s … overcautious and unduly politicized approach to vaccine use” and by moves by richer nations to buy up and hoard vaccine doses. Moreover, the WTO linked the rising caseload also to a highly infectious strain of coronavirus, commonly referred to as the Kent or UK variant, that was first detected in southeast England in September 2020 and that has since spread throughout most of Europe and become the predominant variant in the region.

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