May 14, 2021

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COVID vaccine rollout: Which country in Europe is leading the race?


The UK leading the rest of Europe

In terms of the absolute number of vaccinations, the United Kingdom, which approved its first COVID-19 vaccine on December 2, nearly three weeks before the EU, is racing ahead with immunising its people.

What percentage of the population is fully vaccinated?

While the UK is way ahead of the rest of Europe on total vaccinations administered, other countries are ahead in terms of the percentage of their population fully vaccinated against the disease, which usually means two doses of the jab.

The UK, keen to get first jabs in as many people as possible, is waiting longer than other countries to administer the second one.

Who has made the best progress, relative to population size?

The UK has administered the most vaccines overall, but it also leads in terms of vaccinations per capita of population.

Serbia and Hungary are also strong on this measure. Both have expanded their vaccine portfolios by buying jabs made in Russia and China.

Explore the map below to see how other countries in Europe are doing.

Are richer countries winning the vaccine race?

There have been claims the COVID jab rollout is seeing “vaccine apartheid” develop in parts of the world.

In early February, the World Health Organization said nine-in-10 coronavirus vaccinations had been in richer countries.

To see what was happening in Europe, we compared a country’s GDP per capita against the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people.

A handful of relatively poorer countries – by European Union standards – began vaccinating later and have covered fewer people. The list includes nations such as Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Montenegro and Belarus.

Serbia and Luxembourg are among the chart’s outliers.

The former, in terms of its wealth, has vaccinated higher than the average.

It’s the opposite for the latter, which is the richest of the countries featured but has a below-average inoculation rate.

Level playing field?

The caveat with comparative European data like this is that not every country began vaccinations at the same time.

Here is a look at who got a headstart on the rest.

Which group was vaccinated first?

Another interesting indicator is which group of people each country chose to give the first COVID-19 vaccine to.

Countries in our study are split equally between healthcare professionals and the elderly.

There is also a handful of countries, like Turkey, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria that chose to give it to politicians first. In some instances, this could be a way of trying to allay the fears of a vaccine-sceptic population.

About this data

The data is pulled together from official government sources and media reports.