The EU debacle

For people interested in what’s going on here with the vaccine I found this article very helpful and succinct.
From The NY Times:
It is the latest sign of the power of the Covid-19 vaccines: The number of new cases is declining, often sharply, in countries that have vaccinated a large share of residents.

That’s the situation in Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Britain. Cases are also declining in the U.S., which is not as far along as those three countries but is well ahead of most.

And on the other end of the spectrum is the European continent.
Across most of the European Union, vaccine rollout has been slow, and new cases are surging. Europe — the first place where the coronavirus caused widespread death — is facing the prospect of being one of the last places to emerge from its grip. My colleague Jason Horowitz writes from Rome: “Governments are putting exhausted populations under lockdown. Street protests are turning violent. A year after the virus began spreading in Europe, things feel unnervingly the same.”

Why has Europe done so poorly? There are three main reasons.

1. Too much bureaucracy
While the U.S. and other countries rushed to sign agreements with vaccine makers, the E.U. first tried to make sure all 27 of its member countries agreed on how to approach the negotiations. Europe chose “to prioritize process over speed and to put solidarity between E.U. countries ahead of giving individual governments more room to maneuver,” Jillian Deutsch and Sarah Wheaton write for Politico Europe.

The result was slower regulatory approval of the vaccines and delayed agreements to buy doses, forcing Europe to wait in line behind countries that moved faster.

2. Penny-wise and pound-foolish
Europe put a big emphasis on negotiating a low price for vaccine doses. Israeli officials, by contrast, were willing to pay a premium to receive doses quickly. Israel has paid around $25 per Pfizer dose, and the U.S. pays about $20 per dose. The E.U. pays from $15 to $19.

The discounted price became another reason that Europe had to wait in line behind other countries. Even in purely economic terms, the trade-off will probably be a bad one: Each $1 saved per vaccine dose might ultimately add up to $1 billion — a rounding error in a trading bloc with a nearly $20 trillion annual economic output. A single additional lockdown, like the one Italy announced this week, could wipe out any savings.

“The price difference is macroeconomically irrelevant,” Münchau writes. The E.U. “tried to lock in a perceived short-term price advantage at the expense of everything else.”

3. Vaccine skepticism
“Europe is the world’s epicenter of vaccine skepticism,” Deutsch and Wheaton of Politico Europe write. That skepticism predated Covid, and now its consequences are becoming clear.

In a survey published in the journal Nature Medicine, residents of 19 countries were asked if they would take a Covid vaccine that had been “proven safe and effective.” In China, 89 percent of people said yes. In the U.S., 75 percent did. The shares were lower across most of Europe: 68 percent in Germany, 65 percent in Sweden, 59 percent in France and 56 percent in Poland.

The skepticism helps explain Europe’s latest vaccination problem. About a dozen countries, including France and Germany, have suspended the use of one of the continent’s primary vaccines, from AstraZeneca, citing concerns about blood clots.

But the evidence that the vaccine causes clots is thin. Europe’s main drug regulator still says the benefits outweigh the risks. And Ann Taylor, AstraZeneca’s chief medical officer, has pointed out that the rate of clotting among vaccinated Europeans is lower than “would be expected among the general population.”

Dr. Muge Cevik, a virus expert at the University of St. Andrews, told me yesterday that it was always important to scrutinize vaccines. But, she added, “I would say the benefits of the A.Z. vaccine in preventing Covid, hospitalization and death outweigh the risks of side effects, especially in the middle of the pandemic.”

The bottom line: Over the summer, the U.S. was struggling more than any other country to contain Covid. Today, Europe appears to be in much worse shape.
So here we sit. It is OK. I will wait. Sooner or later we will get the vaccine. Meanwhile I enjoy the onset of spring. Each day is longer. Each day is greener. Each day has more blooming to see.

Italian for today — “bel tempo oggi” In English, “beautiful weather today” Pronounced — bell tem-po ohg-gee.
Stay safe everyone! 🌈

12 thoughts on “The EU debacle

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Suzanne. Yes it is our view. We are lucky enough to have two very different views. From the front windows we see the main piazza of the old town. From the back we are situated on the old city walls and we look across the farm fields to the mountains. Serene. I never tire of it. The sunsets can be spectacular. You can’t see it but the Tiber river is just to the left of the photo. There are many photos of it on the blog. Click the link at the top that says Umbria Apartment and there are lots of photos.

  2. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Thanks Liz and tell Mark Auguri! And to you too, next week. They say the first shot protects you a lot. I just read this is what the Brits are doing. Giving the first one and delaying the second one.

  3. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hey Brian, don’t think it didn’t occur to me! 😁 I discussed it with my sister. But it is just too long to be away from our cats. And we can’t get house/cat sitters now with all the restrictions. 🤷‍♀️ So we wait it out. Eventually we will get them and we are locked down anyway so can’t do anything differently even if we’d been vaccinated.

  4. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Audrey. Congratulations on the jab! I see the US is giving vaccine away to Mexico and Canada. That makes since to help your neighbors. I’m hoping with the new PM here we will see some movement. We just need to get away for them dysfunctional EU. Take care.

  5. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Thank you Rebecca! And yep, we are hanging in and hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel soon..

  6. liz kessell

    Hang in there. Mark has his first shot and many of my friends and relatives have had the first shot. Looks like I can get mine next week. However, 4 month wait for the second shot. In the meantime, cases are going up here in Toronto. I do very much see a bright light at the end of this very long tunnel. You will too…soon.

  7. Brian

    A thought for you: Return to US for a three month stay, in a quaint SE USA town you have never been. You could get vaccinated, eat at restaurants and blog about it. If money is issue, do a go fund me. And then return to Italy, all the while continuing your excellent blog.

  8. Audrey

    I read this article the other day and was thinking of you.
    I got my Johnson and Johnson vaccine on Tuesday. I had called my Drs office to see if they would give me a note for an underlying condition so I could call one of the pharmacies that were inoculating people. The Dr said he wasn’t giving notes unless the condition was severe enough. I said I understood, I wasn’t worried so my about myself as I was about my husband, as he has 3 of the conditions needed and I just didn’t want to pass it on to him. Apparently, the health group that I belong to, get vaccines for their members. So I said, well, if you get any cancellations, I can be there in 20 minutes. They literally called me back an hour later and said “Can you get here by 3?” Umm..HELL YEA. It was fast, painless and I had a very very slight headache, but I took an ibuprofen and it was gone before it had a chance to really hurt. I am hoping that the US will take some of our vaccines and send it to countries where we have citizens abroad. And then if we have extra, I hope that they donate to countries that are having a hard time getting them.

  9. Rebecca Phipps

    Appreciate your blog so much. You still live in a paradise. And we’ve made it this far.

  10. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Matt, you are so right. The thing was mismanaged from the getgo, by nearly everyone. I hope you are right that the vaccines will speed up. Problem is they just don’t have much here. We will see I guess.

  11. Matthew Daub

    Hi Nancy – The initial vaccine roll-out went poorly here, but is now on track. The same will happen for you – hopefully soon. I can only imagine the suffering that could have been avoided if (some of) our leaders in the US set a better example early on.

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