Povzetek evropske vakcinacijske blamaže (slabo izpogajane pogodbe o dobavah cepiva zaradi fokusa na najnižjih cenah) bi lahko bil naslednji: res je, da je z dobrimi nameni tlakovana pot v pekel, vendar je tudi to pot v pekel mogoče narediti peklensko, kadar ingerenco nad izpolnjevanjem dobrih namenov prevzamejo posla nevešči birokrati. Vendar pa, če smo se že znašli v tej godlji, potem vsaj dajmo znotraj nje najti najmanj slabo varianto (torej optimalno varianto glede na nove okoliščine). To pa pomeni, da če že imamo manj cepiva, dajmo vsaj cepiti čim več ljudi z vsaj eno dozo (in iz vsake viale potegniti maksimum doz), da bomo tako lahko čimprej odprli javno življenje in gospodarstvo in tako zmanjšali ekonomsko in splošno družbeno škodo zaradi dolgega lockdowna. To je poanta spodnjega članka.
Early in the pandemic, the commission was tasked with procuring COVID-19 vaccines for the entire EU. This was the most sensible political path, since the alternative would likely have been an increasingly frenzied bidding war among member states of the sort that led to national personal protective equipment export controls earlier in the pandemic. But the commission had no experience in negotiating large-scale pharmaceutical purchases—and, it turns out, learning on the job in the middle of the worst European health crisis in 100 years may not have been a good idea.
The EU seems to have approached the common bulk vaccine purchases with economies of scale foremost in mind—that is, using the continent’s market power to negotiate advantages on price. From a human and macroeconomic perspective, this made little sense, however: The overwhelming priority should have been priority and speed of delivery, since the potential infections avoided and economic savings from an earlier reopening of EU economies would have dwarfed any cost savings from cheaper vaccines. Non-EU governments, such as Israel and the U.K., that made quicker and less price-conscious purchase decisions have been more successful at acquiring early supplies.
The European Commission has in response announced a vaccine export notification requirement, obliging EU vaccine exporters to notify—essentially seek authorization from—EU regulators before shipping vaccines outside the continent.
Rather than indulge in this dangerous path, the European governments should be focused on lower-hanging fruit: They must focus their urgent attention on more effectively injecting the vaccines they have already received. On this count, there can be no doubt that they have not been doing nearly a good enough job.
Vaccine utilization rates among EU governments continue to vary dramatically, even more than a month after EU approval of the first vaccine on Dec. 21. There is little evidence, however, that best practices have spread among member states.
As of Jan. 25, Denmark and Malta have managed to use more than 100 percent of the vaccines made available to them by the EU because they’ve been able to extract more than the officially designated number of vaccine doses from each vial. This stands in contrast, for instance, to the approximately 11 percent used in Bulgaria, 23 percent in the Netherlands, 49 percent in France, 62 percent in Germany, and 57 percent in the EU plus Norway as a whole. In other words, had all of the EU one month into its vaccination program learned to vaccinate as efficiently as Denmark, more than 6 million more Europeans would already have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination. That equals more than 7 percent of the population over the age of 65 in the EU plus Norway.
The EU finds itself in an economically and politically explosive situation. Without more vaccines, the EU will not be able to reopen its economy expeditiously, at least not without a ruinous death toll. There will also not be any quick fixes in the coming weeks, as complex vaccine manufacturing capacity cannot be magically conjured up overnight. If Europe wants more of the successful Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines, it would have had to run the risk and order them over the summer and fall of 2020, not now.
The EU must now embrace, in true Hippocratic form, a commitment to do no further harm. The continent must refrain from embracing vaccine nationalism and barriers to trade in vaccines and components. Yes, Europe must insist that pharmaceutical companies honor their existing contracts with the Commission and scramble to generate more vaccine supplies over the course of the coming months. If the AstraZeneca and also the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for use in the EU in coming weeks, vaccine supplies should be drastically improved in the second quarter of 2021.
But above all, EU governments must focus on fully using the vaccines they already have available to protect vulnerable Europeans. There is no excuse not to adopt far more ambitious rollout strategies. The gains from vaccinating the entire population of Europeans over the age of 16 by the end of June far outweigh any plausible economic costs—and this goal is still achievable. (Indeed, Denmark has maintained it, despite recent vaccine supply setbacks.) For a rich group of countries like the EU, this is a priority no one can afford to ignore.
Vir: Jacob F. Kirkegaard, Foreign Policy