11 European countries now have Covid vaccine rates higher than the UK

·3-min read
Members of the public queuing to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the Tate Modern in July  (AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the public queuing to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the Tate Modern in July (AFP via Getty Images)

Malta, Portugal, Spain and Italy are among 11 countries which now have Covid vaccination rates higher than the UK, according to the latest figures.

Britain was hailed for the lightening fast roll-out of its vaccination programme in early 2021. While other countries battled vaccine hesitancy, people in Britain turned up in their droves to get a jab in their arm. By late March, the UK was administering as many as 800,000 doses a day.

But the uptake has slowed considerably in recent weeks, while many of the UK’s European neighbours that were slow off the mark have managed to get their act together.

The UK has now slipped to 12th in a European league table of Covid vaccination rates compiled by the data agency Statista, with 137 doses administered for every 100 people as of October 3.

Iceland tops the table with a rate of 161, with Malta (159) second and Portugal (156) third.

Other European nations ahead of the UK are: Denmark (151), Spain (150), Ireland (145), Norway (143), Belgium (142), Italy (141), France (140) and Finland (138).

Britain’s coronavirus vaccine effort remains impressive, certainly by pre-pandemic standards.

It was just 10 months ago that 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, from Coventry, became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” she said at the time.

Since then, just over 49million first doses have been administered in the UK - 73 per cent of the population - with 45m second jabs given out (67 per cent).

But there is no doubt that progress has slowed dramatically in recent weeks. The average daily number of first doses reached just over 20,000 in mid-September, which compares to a peak of 506,000 on March 13.

Among the European countries which have been catching up with the UK is Germany, which on Thursday reported that roughly 3.5million more people had been jabbed than were reflected in the official figures.

But why has Britain’s vaccine rate slowed compared to its European neighbours?

One of the reasons is the fact that the UK has only recently begun to vaccinate 12-to-15-years-olds.

The government’s chief medical officers only agreed to start offering the vaccine to children on 13 September.

By that point, Denmark and Spain had already vaccinated most of their child population with at least one dose.

Portugal meanwhile recommended in August that 12 to 15-years-old kids be vaccinated.

Tougher restrictions on non-vaccinated people in other European countries have also been credited with driving up their jab rates.

Malta, which has one of the highest vaccination rates, requires non-jabbed people to wear face masks outdoors.

In France, the daily vaccination rate almost doubled following the introduction of its “health pass” in July.

The UK by contrast has shied away from the idea of compulsory Covid passports.

Experts have also suggested that Britain’s Covid vaccine messaging has become less effective over time, with young people far less inclined to be following official guidance on getting jabbed.

Professor Sharifah Sekalala, an expert in public policy and global health at the University of Warwick, told Sky News last month that the overall vaccine rollout has suffered from a lack of engagement with young people.

“Because of the way we banded ages at the beginning, and we reopened before they were vaccinated, people of university age feel as though their vaccinations are not as important as others,” she said.

Read More

UK red list changes: Which countries are being opened up to travel?

Bookings to South Africa soar 150% amid UK red list shake-up

UK records 40,701 more Covid cases in highest number in a month

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting