Frustration continues to intensify over the sluggish progress of EU vaccination programs.
Germany and Denmark may follow the U.K.’s proposal to give a second dose of the Covid 19 vaccine to people who have already received a first vaccination, as dissatisfaction continues to grow over the slow progress of European vaccination programs.
In the U.K. In order to ensure that more people are vaccinated sooner, the first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be given priority last week, and the second dose 11 or 12 – rather than three – weeks later.
Although the United States has said it would not follow in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, it was announced on Monday that German Minister of Health Jens Spahn asked the Robert Koch Institute to consider postponing the second vaccination.
The step, which follows widespread criticism that Germany did not buy enough vaccine and was unable to speed up its national vaccination program, was welcomed by doctors with enthusiasm.
Leif Erik Sander, head of the vaccine research team at Berlin’s Charité hospital, said, “Given the current vaccine shortage and the very high number of infections and hospitalizations in Germany, a strategy of vaccinating as many people as possible as early as possible is more effective.”
Denmark is also looking at whether it is feasible to increase the intervals between vaccines. On Monday, the Danish Institute for Infectious Diseases said it would closely track the situation in the UK, with an interval of three to six weeks reportedly being considered by the Health Ministry.
With the short-term efficacy of the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one approved by the European Medicines Agency so far, estimated at around 90%, scientists have indicated that it would be beneficial to have a longer period between doses.
The German Ministry of Health has proposed that an additional sixth dose be taken from vials of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, a procedure already approved in many other nations, in another effort to speed up the vaccination process.
While the approval of EMA for a second Moderna shot, expected this week, should ease the situation to some extent, a continent-wide shortage of vaccines has resulted in slowing uptake across the continent, causing increasing dissatisfaction.
The EU’s joint vaccine procurement policy has come under strong scrutiny, with the German tabloid Bild condemning the “silence on the vaccine debacle” of Angela Merkel and calling on the chancellor to clarify why such an important role has been assigned to a “clearly non-in-depth Cypriot EU commissioner”
“probably planned too bureaucratically. Too few of the right vaccines were ordered, and the price debates took too long.”the EU Commission had probably planned very bureaucratically. Too few of the right vaccines were ordered, and it took too long for the price discussions.
BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin also claimed that Brussels was largely responsible for Europe’s problems: the Commission had expected that several different vaccines would be ready at once and thus did not order enough of the BioNtech/Pfizer shot, he said.
Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health, blamed inadequate output capacity. She said the EU had obtained two billion doses of vaccine from six separate manufacturers for its 450 million residents, but some had yet to come on stream, while those already available were not manufactured in adequate quantities.
The shortages should be largely resolved by early spring, experts claim, adding that the key factor is how many EU people will be vaccinated in late spring or early summer, not how many in early January.
According to Euronews, a week after the start of the EU vaccination rollout, Denmark was the most active EU member state. The first dose was given to over 45,800 of the country’s 5.8 million population, with a vaccination rate of 0.78 per 100 people.
With a vaccination rate of 0.23 per 100 people, Germany ranks second, followed by Croatia, Portugal, Italy and Poland with rates between 0.19 and 0.13.
Austria, Bulgaria and Romania are at 0.07, although the vaccination cycle in the Netherlands will not begin until 8 January.
Meanwhile, France is under intense pressure to step up its purposely low-key vaccination program.
On Monday, a reportedly furious Emmanuel Macron met