How does Germany's vaccination rollout compare to the rest of the world?
It’s no exaggeration to say that Germany’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been the target of some pretty sharp criticism in recent weeks. With progress still sluggish, cases of COVID-19 on the rise, and lockdown measures extended once again, people are getting understandably frustrated. But how exactly does the federal republic compare to other countries? Here’s an overview.
9,2 percent of German population have had a coronavirus vaccine
According to the federal government’s official “Vaccination Dashboard”, 11.108.978 vaccine doses have now been administered in Germany (as of March 22), meaning that 9,2 percent of the population has received at least one dose. Almost 3,5 million individuals have also received their second dose, equating to 4,1 percent of the population.
In terms of federal states, the best progress has been made in Saarland, where 11,1 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. The southwestern state is followed by Bremen, Thuringia and Schleswig-Holstein. The least progress has been made in Saxony, where 8,2 percent of the population has received their first dose, followed by Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (8,3 percent) and North Rhine-Westphalia (8,7 percent).
How does Germany’s vaccination rate compare?
Compare Germany’s progress with so-called “model students” like Israel and the United Kingdom, where more than 50 percent of all adults have now received at least one jab, and it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the federal republic is lagging behind.
But if we look beyond these headline-making countries to Germany’s neighbours and other OECD countries, the situation isn’t so disparate. As the chart below demonstrates, the vaccination rate per 100 people in Germany is broadly in line with many of its western European neighbours - with Austria (14,45 doses administered per 100 people), Norway (14,18), Greece (14,09), Switzerland (13,6), Spain (13,52), Poland (13,28), Italy (13,28) and Portugal (13,25) only marginally ahead of Germany on 12,96 doses per 100.
In Spain, incidentally, authorities are pursuing a very similar vaccination strategy to Germany, focusing on vaccinating the very elderly, residents of old people’s homes and healthcare workers first of all.
In Czechia (12,87 doses per 100), Sweden (12,81), France (12,66), Belgium (12,26), Luxembourg (11,86) and the Netherlands (11,02), progress is indeed even slower than in Germany - although it should be noted that the Netherlands was the last country in the EU to start vaccinating, and is in the meantime clearly catching up.
Vaccinations also got off to a slow start in Czechia. Currently, anyone over the age of 70 can register for a vaccination appointment online, and police officers, firefighters and teachers are being prioritised. France, like Germany, is focusing on vaccinating the oldest and the frailest first. But with uptake among some population groups remaining low, the country has succeeded in being quite flexible and regularly adjusting the order of those entitled to a vaccination.
Leading countries have adopted flexible vaccination strategies
Within the EU, Hungary, Estonia and Denmark are the forerunners. Do their vaccination strategies perhaps contain any lessons for Germany? Possibly.
Denmark’s success arguably lies in its pursuit of a two-pronged approach: not only has the government placed emphasis on vaccinating those at greatest risk first, but also on vaccinating as many people as possible in the shortest possible time.
Hungary has also upended its vaccination priority list following sluggish uptake, while general practitioners have been given a relatively free hand to use leftover doses (for instance if a patient doesn’t show up for an appointment) as they see fit.