The vaccination campaign had been organized from an identical starting point for each European country, but the AstraZeneca case upset plans and created chaos internationally: initial authorizations only for younger people forced countries to review the vaccination campaign anticipating administration to some categories, then the “possible link” between vaccination and some very rare cases of circulatory problems led many health ministries to recommend AstraZeneca only for older people. These restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca will especially affect the organization of vaccination campaigns, which will have to be rethought in many European countries. In addition, the uncertainty and communication confusion of AstraZeneca and governments, combined with the alarmism circulated on some media and social networks, have contributed to increasing the skepticism of many people towards the vaccine.
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Vaccine delivery times and daily administration capacity are two important indicators for understanding what will happen in the coming months. So far 100 million doses have been delivered throughout Europe and in the second quarter the manufacturing companies have committed to supply another 360 million: 200 million will come from Pfizer-BioNTech, which after the initial delays has respected the contracts signed with the European Union , 70 million from AstraZeneca against the estimated 180 million, 35 million from Johnson & Johnson and 35 from Moderna. With these new deliveries, which, however, must be followed by a triple administration capacity compared to the current one, the ambitious goal of vaccinating 70% of Europeans by the end of the summer could be achieved. This, however, net of the changes due to the AstraZeneca case.
The country that everyone watches very carefully is the United Kingdom, which after leaving the European Union managed to independently negotiate the supply of vaccines and adopted a very aggressive strategy by administering the first dose to as many people as possible without worrying too much about it. keep stock for recalls. Leaving aside the data of small nations, at the moment the UK is the country that has managed to vaccinate the highest percentage of inhabitants after Israel: 46 per cent of people received the first dose of the vaccine, but only 8 per cent has completed the vaccination cycle, for the strategic reasons explained above. In addition to the administration at very high rates, a strict lockdown was in force for weeks which included a ban on leaving the house except for reasons of health or necessity.
The combination of vaccine protection after the first dose and severe restrictive measures has contributed to a drastic drop in infections and ICU patients. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fulfilling the promises contained in the plan to ease the measures to limit the contagion divided into four phases. Johnson confirmed that non-essential shops, hairdressers, restaurants and pubs, gyms, zoos, theme parks and libraries will be able to reopen in England alone as of April 12. Johnson does not expect the epidemic to disappear by the end of the summer, but explained that as the vaccination campaign progresses, the consequences of the coronavirus will be more contained and manageable.
In Germany, 12.6 percent of the inhabitants received at least the first dose of the vaccine and only 5.4 percent were also given the booster. These percentages are very similar to those of other countries such as Italy, Spain and France: with these numbers it is still early to see effects on the trend of infections. In recent months, Germany has alternated between openings and closures and has left a certain freedom of decision to the 16 federal Länder.
As can be seen from the graph, after the growth in infections at the beginning of January there was a decline and then a new deterioration starting from March. The curve showing the number of patients in intensive care does not seem to have peaked yet and the German government has explained that the number of beds occupied in intensive care is worrying. Ulrike Demmer, a spokesman for the government, said a new general lockdown is being considered, but shorter than those introduced in recent months. “We need an incidence of contagion that remains steadily below 100 (weekly cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, ed),” explained Demmer.
On March 31, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the third general lockdown, with restrictive measures in force for a month starting from April 3: ban on travel more than 10 kilometers from home, schools closed at least until April 26, maintenance curfew, closure of non-essential shops and smart working obligation. Since the beginning of January it seemed that the number of new cases was under control, instead there has been a new growth since March.
Macron admitted that mistakes were made in handling the emergency. To this is added a rather confused start to the vaccination campaign: in the first two months of the year, in France the vaccination rates were slower than in other European countries such as Italy, and there was an acceleration only from the end of February. At the moment 13.7 per cent of French people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4.6 per cent of the inhabitants have completed the vaccination course.
For now, Spain seems to have avoided a resumption of infections as occurred in March in many other European countries, even if the incidence has not been decreasing since the end of February. Navarre, Madrid and the Basque Country, together with the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, where the incidence exceeds the threshold of 250 infections per week for every 100 thousand inhabitants, continue to be considered at risk territories.
In Spain, 13.1 percent of the inhabitants have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and here too the government is grappling with the AstraZeneca case: the administration has been limited to people over 60 and the minister of health, Carolina Darias said they are considering approving the use of a different second dose than the first. At the moment, however, there are no studies that prove the effectiveness of this solution.
In this infographic it is possible to consult the progress of vaccination campaigns and the contagion curve, hospitalized in intensive care and deaths in all European countries and also in most of the countries of the rest of the world. Just click on the filter to choose the country. Worldwide, the country that has vaccinated the highest percentage of people is Israel, where 61 percent of the population has received at least one dose and over 56 percent have also received the booster.