Despite protests against coronavirus restrictions rocking the streets of Paris and Berlin last weekend, the EU’s quiet move towards an exit from the pandemic continues apace.
The European Union surpassed its target of injecting at least one jab into the arms of 70 per cent of its population by the end of July.
And according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention, around 212m people across the continent are fully vaccinated. This amounts to 58 per cent of the population of the 27 member bloc.
That marks quite the turnaround from the start of the vaccination process – one leaders are keen to hail.
The EU’s vaccination rollout had a slow start compared to the UK and US due to logistical issues and delays in the delivery of vaccine doses.
“The catch-up process has been very successful – but we need to keep up the effort,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement last week.
Yet there are signs that the official response to the pandemic is beginning to grate on the public mood.
On Saturday, French people took to the streets for the third weekend in a row to protest against President Macron’s new coronavirus restrictions, including the imposition of the “pass sanitaire”.
The mandatory coronavirus health pass has been required access to leisure and cultural venues since July 21st. On August 9th, it will extend to cafés, restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals, retirement homes and long-distance travel by plane, train and coach.
Around 200,000 people demonstrated across France said an official of the interior ministry, including 14,250 in Paris where some clashed with police.
Around 40 per cent of people back the protests, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. Politicians Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon also expressed their support for the movement, which says the pass restricts their civil liberties.
Despite the resistance to the pass, France has made strides in its vaccination rollout. Nearly 5 million booked a first dose and more than 6 million a second one in the two weeks following President Macron’s announcement that the pass would be extended to social activities beyond large venues.
Around 53 per cent of French have now received their first vaccine dose and 63.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.
In Germany, ministers are working on a plan to administer a booster jab for the vulnerable and elderly as early as September 1st, reports said yesterday. Health ministers are also expected to sign off on a proposal to start vaccinating all children between 12 and 17 years old.
On Sunday, 5,000 people defied a court-ordered protest ban and demonstrated in the streets of Berlin against government-imposed lockdown rules. The protest was called by the “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest voice against coronavirus restrictions in the country.
Around 52 per cent of Germans are fully vaccinated, with 62 per cent having been administered their first jab.
In line with its neighbours, Belgium has fully vaccinated 60 per cent of its people, with 70 per cent having at least one dose.
Almost 58.5 per cent of Spaniards and 53 per cent of Italians have received both inoculations. Italy has also introduced a coronavirus “green pass” increasing the uptake of the vaccine across the country. Only one dose is required to get the pass, which applies to public gathering places from August 6th.