The EU has now vaccinated more people against COVID-19 with a first dose than the US, according to data released last week. 55.7 percent of EU citizens have received a first jab as of Saturday, compared to 55.5 percent of Americans, according to Our World in Data. French Deputy Minister for European Affairs Clément Beaune tweeted the figures on Saturday and hailed the achievement.
He wrote: “We’re carrying on, we’re speeding up!”
The new data comes after the 27-nation bloc has for months faced sharp criticism for the slow start of its vaccination campaign amid delivery delays and logistical problems.
The US remains ahead of the EU when it comes to full vaccination, with respectively 48.1 percent and 42.5 percent of their populations inoculated with two doses as of last Saturday.
The UK also remains miles ahead with 68.4 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, National Rally leader Marine Le Pen praised Britain’s vaccination campaign, while arguing “the vaccine strategy of the EU has provided a good example of its carelessness”.
She said: “Contrary to the treaties, but perhaps to make people forget its inertia during the first part of the epidemic, Brussels wanted to seize the vaccine strategy for the 27 countries.
“It was a fiasco: opacity of contracts, long delays, major logistical failures, a priori absurd biased ideologies prohibiting the diversification of sources of vaccine supply…
“On television, often our sad fate was compared with the situation in Great Britain which mastered its vaccination campaign.”
Head of Oxford-based think-tank Euro Intelligence Wolfgang Munchau explained in a report why the bloc would have never been able to deliver a successful vaccination rollout on par with the likes of the UK and Israel.
However, with its contributions to health innovation, in particular digital health, are outsized.
In 2019, Israel’s cabinet approved a one billion shekel (£276million) investment in digital health, focusing primarily on commercialising and otherwise deriving value from the country’s medical databases.
Israel’s healthcare system has been paperless for about 20 years.
And while its hospitals are not all on the same Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, those systems do all talk to each other.
The ability to reach patients at the drop of a hat, have immediate access to their medical history, and seamless capabilities for appointment bookings have been fundamental for Israel, which is one of the countries at the top of the COVID-19 vaccine league table.
Britain’s successful vaccination rollout is another story.
As Mr Munchau mentioned, the UK did put a venture capitalist, Kate Bingham, in charge of the operation.
Her taskforce helped the Government to secure vital agreements to have access to six different vaccines across four different formats, amounting to 357 million doses.
She invested a huge £1billion upfront, without any guarantee that any vaccine would work.
It was a risk that has paid off handsomely, and has allowed the UK to race ahead and vaccinate its population against the virus.