Half of the European Union’s population has now been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, an AFP tally showed yesterday.
The highly contagious Delta variant has been driving surging infections across the world, even in places which had long touted their successes in overcoming the worst of the pandemic.
Hit hard by earlier waves of the pandemic, the European Union has now fully vaccinated more than 50% of its population.
Nearly 224 million people across the 27 member states have been covered, with Spain leading the pack of larger EU countries with 58.3% of its population fully vaccinated, followed by Italy with 54.4%, France with 52.9% and Germany with 52.2%, according to an AFP tally.
The EU has now passed the vaccination rate of the United States — which remains on 49.7%— as that country suffers a new wave driven by the Delta variant that has sent hospitalisations soaring to levels not seen since last summer.
The EU has given first shots to 59.3% of its population, according to the AFP tally from official sources, while the US is just behind at 57.8% in the latest figures released on Monday.
The tiny island nation of Malta tops the EU league with three quarters of its people fully vaccinated followed by Belgium at 58.9%.
Bottom of the European class are Balkan neighbours Bulgaria (14.5%) and Romania which has covered a quarter of its people.
The US on Monday hit President Joe Biden’s goal of administering at least one jab to 70% of adults a month late — dashing hopes of declaring victory over the worst of the pandemic by Independence Day on July 4.
Officials blamed falling vaccine rates — particularly in areas where hesitancy is higher among younger people, those with less income and racial minorities — for the missed deadline as well as the soaring caseload.
“These cases are concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” Jeff Zients, White House Covid task force coordinator, told reporters.
“One in three cases nationwide occurred in Florida and Texas this past week.”
In a silver lining, US states that previously lagged behind are belatedly catching up according to the latest vaccination data.
The US has also fallen behind its northern neighbour Canada, which started its immunisation campaign later but has now fully vaccinated 59% of its people.
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