Europe vaccine in charts – How UK, France and Germany compare in race out of lockdown

Angela Merkel's vaccine stance discussed by Gyles Brandreth

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Vaccine programmes are ramping up globally, with the US reporting more than 50 million people now vaccinated against the coronavirus, and encouraging statistics emerging from the UK amid intensive vaccine rollouts. However, there is low confidence in some vaccines within Europe, and the uptake has been slow, leaving EU nations lagging behind other leading nations. Here is a look at how the UK, France and Germany compare as the race to return to normality ramps up.

How is the UK doing?

After devastating numbers of infections and deaths, the UK has performed extremely well with its vaccine rollout to date.

More than 20 million people have now received at least one dose – 21,091,267 at the time of writing.

The second phase of the vaccine programme has now begun, after everyone in the first four priority groups – those aged 70 and over, care home residents, healthcare workers and people required to shield – were offered a jab by mid-February.

Now, the rollout is now being expanded to include those aged 60 and above and those with underlying health conditions.

The rest of the over-50s will follow, with the government aiming to offer everyone in priority groups five to nine a jab by 15 April.

Already the effects of what will become the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched are being felt.

Data released on Tuesday show coronavirus-related deaths have fallen by a quarter in the past week alone according to the Office for National Statistics.

Coronavirus hospital admissions are also falling faster for older age groups.

However, with resilient strains emerging all the time, it is imperative the vaccination programme continues to run at a smooth and rapid pace to offer as many people protection from the worst effects of the virus as possible.

How is France doing?

France has been accused of operating a “leisurely” vaccination programme.

At the time of writing, 4,560,861 doses of the vaccine have been administered, in a nation with roughly the same population as the UK.

France is still struggling to control rising infection rates in some areas despite a national curfew still in place.

On Tuesday, France approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s, a revision of the nation’s former stance.

Last month France approved the use of the vaccine for under-65s only, citing a lack of data for older people, but studies have since shown the jab is highly effective amongst the elderly.

As more data has emerged, French health officials have tried to convince people that it is just as safe and effective as other Covid-19 vaccines.

Just 273,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered in France.

In January French President Emmanuel Macron said the AstraZeneca vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” for older age groups – a claim strongly rejected at the time by UK officials and scientists.

However, after a European Council meeting on Friday, he said: “If this is the vaccine I’m offered, obviously I would take it.”

The MG France doctors’ association has hit back at criticism of the AstraZeneca jab and the fact that many doses remain unused.

The man in charge of France’s vaccine rollout has also backed it, saying it has received unfair “bad press”.

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How is Germany doing?

Germany has also been slow on vaccine uptake and has joined France in its scepticism of the AstraZeneca jab.

At the time of writing, Germany had administered a total of 6,394,364 jabs.

The less than desirable rollout of the vaccine programme has blighted Germany’s formerly-favourable reputation in the pandemic.

During the pandemic’s first wave, Germany’s crisis response was hailed around the world as an example of what to do – early lockdown and an exemplary contact-tracing system left it with one of the lowest infection rates in Europe.

But the second wave hit harder, and a lockdown enforced in December shows no signs of ending, while the vaccine programme leaves much to be desired.

There are concerns among German scientists that too much of the AstraZeneca jabs are going to waste.

Only 240,000 of 1.45 million available doses had been used by February 23.

On Sunday, a senior German immunologist, Carsten Watzl, urged his country to change its mind and start allowing over-65s to receive the vaccine.

Germany’s vaccine commission is currently reviewing its recommendation and Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that it was “a vaccine that can be trusted”.

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