The European Commission announced today that 70 percent of the European Union’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, meeting a target set earlier this year.
It marks an important milestone in the EU vaccination strategy after a slow start. However, it also reveals big differences amongst member states. While some nations hit well above the 70 percent mark, others in the poorer eastern region of the bloc still lag behind.
Smaller, more prosperous countries such as Iceland, Denmark and Malta have contributed to the two-thirds target by vaccinating almost 90 percent of their respective populations.
By contrast, Latvia has yet to meet the halfway mark. The number of vaccinated adults sits at around 45.5 percent, according to the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Romania has vaccinated just under a third of the population, while Bulgaria is lagging at 20 percent.
Many countries in this region are caught between disinformation and mistrust of the government, and suffered from earlier problems in the EU’s vaccine rollout.
A rocky start
Earlier this year the rollout was hit by delays in production and distribution as well as vaccine hesitancy in some countries.
The EU was initially slower than the UK to negotiate a contract with AstraZeneca and encountered supply problems.
In January 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for all age groups, but the vaccine encountered vast mistrust in a number of EU countries after announced blood clot risks.
Last month, the EU took AstraZeneca to court to force it to deliver more doses of vaccine. The company blamed production problems but said it had “fully complied” with its contract.
The EU lost its legal battle; it had wanted AstraZeneca to deliver 120 million doses by the end of June but instead the company was ordered to provide 80 million doses by the end of September.
Having met the set target after a tumultuous start, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter “70 percent of adults in EU are fully vaccinated. I want to thank the many people making this great achievement possible,”.