Covid-19 cases are once again surging in Europe, and data show that the countries recording the biggest rebounds are lagging in vaccinations.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, cases have risen in almost every European country over the last two weeks. In 13 of 45 countries, new cases have more than doubled. More than half of European countries with the biggest outbreaks rank in the bottom half when it comes to vaccination rates on the continent.
The outbreaks in Europe are among the most severe in the world; six of the 10 countries with the biggest case increases are on the continent. The increases are most severe in Eastern Europe: The Czech Republic, San Marino, Hungary and Poland lead the continent with new case numbers that are more than triple their mid-October levels.
Covid-related deaths across Europe have also spiked, with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Latvia accounting for the biggest increases over the past two weeks.
Vaccine rollouts have been slow in several Eastern European countries. While more than 7 in 10 people in Portugal, Spain, Iceland, France and Ireland have received at least one dose, vaccination rates in Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus have yet to reach 30 percent.
By comparison, 67 percent of people in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine dose, and Portugal’s 87 percent vaccination rate is the second highest in the world.
Officials at the World Health Organization have criticized the unequal distribution of vaccines, noting that wealthier countries have bought excess doses and have begun offering booster shots while poorer countries have struggled to get adequate supplies. The WHO released a letter from Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, during a meeting of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging market countries on Oct. 29 asking member countries to commit to share doses.