The first vaccine against the Wuhan virus was developed by a German biotech company, BioNTech, in partnership with American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
So why is the vaccination rate in Germany stuck at 4% while the American vaccination rate is now quadruple that? Throughout Europe, it’s much the same story. The vaccination rate is 4% in France, Spain, Sweden and Italy, and 5% in Finland, Greece, Poland and Norway.
Only the UK, now separate from the EU, is doing well with a vaccination rate of 27% after approving the vaccine weeks before the FDA did in the U.S. (with the same data that the FDA ultimately based its approval on, it should be noted).
Unsurprisingly, this dawdling on the Continent has an effect: death. While the death rates have come down from January’s peak wave, daily new cases and daily deaths in the EU remain stubbornly high. In contrast, in the UK where the vaccine is really rolling, daily new cases are down by three-quarters and daily deaths are down two-thirds.
Europe is not a technologically primitive place. Switzerland is a center of pharmaceuticals. Europe is wealthy, educated and has government healthcare systems that many in the U.S. hold up as models.
The conventional explanation for the EU’s bungling is that they were caught up in bureaucratic in-fighting, squabbles between member countries and EU red tape.
While the EU fiddled, President Trump was acting. He publicly downplayed the virus last winter (as did nearly everyone else) but behind the scenes he signed purchase contracts to commit to the U.S. the manufacturing capacity of Pfizer and other vaccine makers and spent billions on Operation Warp Speed to speed the approval process.
(Disclosure note: I was a patient volunteer in Pfizer’s clinical trials. I’ve now received both shots of Pfizer’s vaccine.)
Red tape and bureaucratic incompetence are undoubtedly part of the vaccine problem in the EU, but perhaps there’s more.
Much of Europe provides government long term care – nursing homes – for its elderly population. This results in a lot of nursing homes with a lot of residents compared to the U.S. where the elderly more often stay in their own homes and where those who do move to nursing homes usually pay for it themselves or with family funds. The taxpayer expenditure to pay for the nursing home entitlement in Europe is double to quadruple the burden in the U.S.
Given that the Wuhan virus victims are overwhelmingly unproductive elderly people who cost the EU governments dearly, is it possible that the EU incompetence in rolling out the vaccines was simply benign neglect, or worse? And is it possible that all this was with the tacit approval of the EU citizens?
In at least Italy, that seems to be the case. The prestigious medical journal Lancet describes the Italian nursing home imbroglio as “abandonment” by government, staff and citizens due to “high costs.” This created what other media have characterized as a “silent massacre.”
Welcome to socialized medicine, where medical care for the weakest among us is subordinated to governmental cost containment, bureaucratic bungling and citizen indifference.