The WHO said Europe's vaccine rollout has been 'unacceptably slow'

  • The WHO said Europe’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been “unacceptably slow.”
  • Its Europe head said if vaccination campaigns struggle, restrictions will be more necessary.
  • Many European countries are seeing new surges of the virus and putting in new restrictions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that Europe’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been “unacceptably slow.”

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement cited by CNN: “Vaccines present our best way out of this pandemic. Not only do they work, they are also highly effective in preventing infection. However, the rollout of these vaccines is unacceptably slow.”

He said that if vaccination campaigns are lacking, other public-health restrictions become more necessary to try and fight the virus.

“As long as coverage remains low, we need to apply the same public-health and social measures as we have in the past, to compensate for delayed schedules,” he said.

The WHO said Europe had only given 10% of its population one shot of the vaccine, and all vaccines approved in the region are made up of two doses. Some countries are performing significantly better than others.

The EU has acknowledged failings in the way it approached trying to secure vaccines, which has left it with fewer vaccinations per capita than some other countries and regions. The EU will struggle to hit its target of vaccinating 70% people by this summer, as Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce has reported.

But Kluge also alluded to another problem that Europe has faced: Vaccines that have reached its countries aren’t being used.

Figures released on March 15 by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed that just over 15 million vaccines doses had been delivered but hadn’t been used yet. 

Kluge said: “Let me be clear: we must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and using every single vial we have in stock, now.”

His comments come as many countries in Europe are seeing cases surge once again, prompting some countries to introduce new lockdown measures or delay the planned easing of restrictions. France on Wednesday declared a new COVID-19 lockdown for a month in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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