For almost as long as Covid-19 vaccines have been available, the UK has proudly positioned itself at the forefront of the inoculation effort, consistently leading the pack – at least in terms of percentages.
But the pace of the once “world beating” vaccination programme appears to be slowing, with the fully jabbed percentages of six EU member states overtaking that of the UK.
Percentages in Malta, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Ireland have now exceeded that of the UK, according to government and health service figures collated by the online science publication, Our World In Data.
It’s not just in Europe either. The same data shows that the fully jabbed percentage of Canadian residents is also higher than that of the UK.
According to the figures at the time of writing, the UK has fully jabbed around 58 per cent of its population.
In contrast Malta has fully vaccinated 89 per cent of its residents, Belgium 62 per cent, and Spain and Portugal 60 per cent.
Wasn’t a slowdown inevitable?
A slowdown in the pace of the vaccine rollout is not unexpected.
“Early adopters” of the vaccine – i.e. those enthusiastic to receive their jabs at the first chance of offering – will have mostly claimed their vaccinations. It now falls to more hesitant groups to come forward.
But what is surprising is the severity of the decline, and the UK is now administering just a fraction of the amount of jabs that other countries are on a daily basis.
On 4 August for example, France administered 630,291 jabs (this total is first and second dose figures combined), while only 198,973 people received a dose in the UK on the same day.
That's around 32 per cent of France’s total.
It could be argued that Europe’s rate of vaccination is gathering pace as access to shots becomes widespread to EU nations and other countries, who are now going through the kind of early “boom” period that the UK enjoyed earlier in the year.
Vaccination programmes across Europe were relatively slow to get off the ground, thanks in part to shortages in vaccine supplies, but they seem to be bouncing back now.
How can the UK pick up the pace?
The Government has urged young adults to come forward for a first jab, while announcing plans for a Covid vaccine passport that would make full vaccination a requirement for entry to nightclubs and other venues from the end of September.
Food delivery and taxi-hailing companies have also been enlisted to offer discounted rides and meals for customers who have received a jab.
Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo are among the brands who will be offering incentives to encourage young people to get vaccinated.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said taxi app firm Uber will be sending reminders to all users in August encouraging them to get jabbed.
The company will offer discounted Uber rides and meals on its UberEats platform for young adults who receive a vaccine.
New figures released this week suggest about three in 10 young adults in England have still not had a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, despite the renewed appeals from politicians and a host of pop-up vaccination centres across the country.
Some 69.3 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 had received a first dose of a vaccine up to 1 August, according to estimates from NHS England, meaning 30.7 per cent are likely to remain unjabbed.
About 2.6 million 18 to 29-year-olds remain unvaccinated.
A breakdown of this age group by gender shows vaccine take-up continues to be lower among men than women; an estimated 73.9 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 have had a first dose, compared with 67.3 per cent of men.
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