Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

A health care worker hands over doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a doctor at Messe Wien Congress Center, in Vienna, Austria, on Feb. 7, 2021.

LISI NIESNER/Reuters

The European Union’s vaccine unity has shattered as shortages push a few desperate countries to seek outside supplies and create foreign partnerships.

Frustrated by the vaccine shortages, at least four EU countries – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have struck deals to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, or are considering doing so. The Chinese vaccine is also a contender. The Russian and Chinese products have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EU’s vaccine rollout remains stubbornly slow, although the pace has picked up somewhat in recent days. By Tuesday, the 27-country EU – population 450 million – had administered only 33.5 million doses, equivalent to 7.5 per 100 citizens.

Story continues below advertisement

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination

doses administered

Per 100 people. This is counted as a single dose, and

may not equal the total number of people vaccinated,

depending on the specific dose regime

100

Israel

80

60

40

Britain

U.S.

20

EU

Canada

0

Jan. 1

15

25

Feb. 4

14

March 1

the globe and mail, Source: Official data

collated by Our World in Data –

Last updated March 2

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination

doses administered

Per 100 people. This is counted as a single dose, and may not equal

the total number of people vaccinated, depending on the

specific dose regime

100

Israel

80

60

40

Britain

U.S.

20

EU

Canada

0

Jan. 1

15

25

Feb. 4

14

March 1

the globe and mail, Source: Official data collated

by Our World in Data – Last updated March 2

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination doses administered

Per 100 people. This is counted as a single dose, and may not equal the total

number of people vaccinated, depending on the specific dose regime

100

Israel

80

60

40

Britain

U.S.

20

EU

Canada

0

Jan. 1

15

25

Feb. 4

14

March 1

the globe and mail, Source: Official data collated by Our World

in Data – Last updated March 2

The equivalent figure in Britain was 32; in the U.S., 23; and Israel, the world leader, at almost 95.

This week, Denmark and Austria announced their intention to form a partnership with Israel to develop second-generation vaccines as the COVID-19 virus mutates into highly contagious – and possibly more lethal – forms, threatening to keep European lockdowns in place.

Unless the lockdowns and other restrictions are lifted soon, weaker, tourist-dependent countries such as Italy, Spain and Greece face an economic crisis as their governments run out of financial firepower.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, among other EU leaders, has been critical of the European vaccine strategy, which saw the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, install itself last summer as the sole buying agent for the bloc. The EC moved slowly in negotiating purchase agreements with big pharmaceutical companies (allowing Britain to nail down the early supplies), and got bogged down in legal negotiations over liability and contract-enforcement clauses.

Manufacturing capacity shortfalls compounded the problems, putting the EU well behind many other countries and regions in the vaccination race.

Mr. Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen are travelling to Israel later this week to see its rapid vaccine rollout in action and discuss plans to collaborate on creating and manufacturing vaccines, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

In a blow to the EC vaccine strategy, which is overseen by EC president Ursula von der Leyen, Slovakia and Hungary granted emergency approval of the Sputnik vaccine. Slovakia, which currently has the highest number of pandemic deaths per capita over a seven-day period, is to receive two million doses of the Sputnik vaccine.

The question is whether one of the EU’s big countries will also break ranks and order outside vaccine supplies. Francesco Galietti, chief executive of the Rome political consultancy Policy Sonar, said that Mario Draghi, Italy’s new prime minister, might be forced to buy the Russian vaccine if Italy’s campaign doesn’t pick up momentum soon. “Draghi will have to carefully assess whether the Western vaccines are enough,” he said in an interview. “He seems to have realized that Italy cannot survive economically if the vaccine is not rolled out before the summer. He knows the importance of tourism to Italy.”

Large and producing nations are cutting strategic deals for vaccines across the globe, which critics say threatens fair distribution. Reuters

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies