Vaccine row: EU chief claims bloc's jab rate is 'same' as UK

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Karl Lauterbach, professor of health economics and clinical epidemiology, delivered a damning verdict on the bloc’s handling of the pandemic and insisted the vaccination programme has been far too slow. The member of the Social Democratic Party in Germany described the vaccine supply in Europe as a “fiasco” and warned officials need to do something to regain the trust of citizens.

Speaking to German newspaper Die Zeit, the 58-year-old said: “If the EU had done better, all of Europe would have been vaccinated by the end of April.

“We would hardly have any corona cases now, we would now be vaccinating the age group of 30 to 40-year-olds.

“That would have been technically possible.”

The European Commission took ownership of striking deals on behalf of the whole of the bloc last year.

However, the rigid approach resulted in delays in reaching deals with global manufactures and has led to major supply issues.

The US has administered the most vaccinations of any country, with more than 140 million doses given.

The European Union’s 27 member states are on the verge of 70 million doses, according to figures tracked by research firm Our World in Data.

Meanwhile, in the UK more than 30.5 million people have received their first dose.

When those figures are adjusted by population the UK outperforms both the US and the EU.

The figures by Our World in Data show the UK has administered 50.26 doses per 100 people, compared to 43.6 in the US and just 15.7 in the EU27.

Mr Lauterbach said Europeans have lost trust in the bloc and insisted its vaccination progress should have been delivered at the same pace as the US.

He said: “The people are not stupid. They understand that we could now be as advanced as the Americans with the vaccinations.”

Mr Lauterbach added: “If we want to regain trust, then we have to do something again that works.”

The vaccine rollout in Europe remains precarious with talks continuing with AstraZeneca over vaccine supply.

The Anglo-Swedish company said it would aim to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June, instead of the agreed 300 million.

This afternoon, German regulators announced they would suspend the use of the shot, following reports of mild-side effects.

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Germany’s vaccine committee, known as STIKO, will recommend the jab only for people over the age of 60.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organisation said this month the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweighed any possible risks.

AstraZeneca says the vaccine is safe and effective, citing extensive trial data.

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)

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