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19th Mar 2021

More dying from Covid in EU than first wave amidst bloc’s chaotic vaccine roll out

The World Health Organisation have warned the situation in parts of the EU is now among the worst globally 

Nadine Batchelor-Hunt

The World Health Organisation have warned the situation in parts of EU is now among the worst globally 

The European Union is in the grips of a deadly third wave of Covid-19, with cases soaring across the continent.

It is believed the UK Kent variant, B117, is partially to blame – which is up to 70 percent more contagious than the original strain. 

French president Emmanuel Macron yesterday announced that swathes of France, including Paris, would go into lockdown today to control the surge. 

The lockdown is due to last at least four weeks after the country reported 35,000 new cases yesterday – with more patients in intensive care in Paris than at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Italy also went into lockdown this week, with two thirds placed under tight restrictions as it started to record more than 25,000 cases per day. 

Italy became the second European country to pass 100,000 deaths this month after the UK.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have said the pandemic situation was “most acute” in countries that had previously had relative success at controlling the pandemic compared to other countries. 

Last summer, the UK was the worst effected by the pandemic in Europe and had the highest excess mortality rate.

However, this has now changed – with Poland, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia overtaking it. 

The EU’s Covid-19 related deaths have now reached over 550,000, second only to the United States. 

This new wave comes in the midst of controversy over the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the continent, and the EU’s chaotic vaccination programme. 

Last month, the EU lambasted AstraZeneca, claiming that they were not providing them with their fair share of the vaccine.

Things escalated quickly, with the EU unilaterally triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol without even telling Ireland, by attempting to introduce a hard border for vaccine imports. 

The affair quickly became a diplomatic disaster and embarrassment for the bloc, leading them to backtrack and revoke it.

However, countries like Germany and France claimed that the AstraZeneca vaccine was ineffective on over 65s, something AstraZeneca fiercely denied. 

Meanwhile, millions of vaccine doses sat in fridges across the EU due to the bloc’s shambolic rollout – with the WHO urging the bloc to send vaccines elsewhere if they were not going to use them. 

This month, a multitude of EU countries suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine over unevidenced claims that the vaccine was associated with blood clots – something the vaccine manufacturer, AstraZeneca, the WHO, and the European Medicines Agency have rejected. 

Simultaneously, president of the European Commission Ursula Van der Leyen announced this week that the EU may block vaccine exports from the continent to countries with higher vaccination rates.

Today, in a u-turn, France said they are recommending vaccinating all over 55s with the AstraZeneca jab – with the French Prime Minister being vaccinated with it on national television.

The situation in Europe has caused concern among scientists in the UK, who are said to be carefully watching the situation and the affect a third wave in Europe could have on Britain.