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It’s Europe that’s vaccinating the world

Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Joe Biden told the world that the US was an “arsenal of vaccines” last month, and finally announced on Monday that it will export 20 million doses. But if there is “a vaccine arsenal for the world”, it’s not America but Europe, says Moritz Koch in Handelsblatt. The EU has exported about 200 million shots, and in a way that’s strikingly different to Anglo-Saxon vaccination nationalism, the saviour narrative of the Chinese or “the geopolitical Sputnik games of the Kremlin”. Why isn’t it shouting about its success? Others are doing far less to combat the pandemic, but are “winning the propaganda battle”. Biden’s campaign to waive vaccine patents is especially galling to Brussels – the EU supports manufacturer patents, leaving its members looking like “cold-hearted capitalists” while America is “celebrated as the progressive avant-garde”. 

But the facts speak for themselves. The EU is second only to China in vaccine supply and has helped to develop the most “trustworthy” jabs. So Europe can leave its early vaccine envy behind: it’s putting more shots in arms every day than the US and has ordered 1.8 billion more, enough for “another round of vaccine diplomacy”. America and Britain, meanwhile, have “renounced international solidarity”, while authoritarian states exploit vaccines as “an instrument of power”. If Brussels wants to be taken seriously, less apologising and more “showing off” would be a good start.  

Why it matters To vaccinate 70% of the world and reach herd immunity, we’ll need 11 billion shots. So far we’ve produced only 1.7 billion, and “wealthy countries have captured an overwhelming share of the benefit”, says The New York Times. The 29 poorest countries are home to 9% of the world’s population, but have received just 0.3% of vaccine doses. 

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