The European Union’s fight against Covid-19 is stuck in midwinter, even as spring and vaccinations spur hope of improvement in the U.S. and U.K.
Despite months of restrictions on daily life, new Covid-19 cases have been rising again in the EU since mid-February, as more-virulent virus strains outpace vaccinations.
By contrast, virus infections and deaths have been falling rapidly in the U.S. and U.K. since January as inoculations take off among the elderly and other vulnerable groups. U.S. infections and deaths, which were higher on a per capita basis for most of 2020, have fallen below the EU’s.
Author(s): Marcus Walker in Rome, Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Stacy Meichtry in Paris
Europe’s reluctance to distribute millions of doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine is coming under pressure after the French government authorized use of the shot for some older people.
The French government announced it would allow people with comorbidities between the ages of 65 and 74 to receive the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. New data from the U.K. on Monday showed just one dose of the vaccine was effective in preventing disease and deaths among adults aged 70 and older who had received it.
France’s move was a sharp departure from a month ago when President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that the vaccine was quasi ineffective for people older than 65, without providing evidence to back up his claim. The comments helped sow doubts across the European Union that still persist.