EU’s Covid chaos ‘to cost bloc €123billion’ as Brussels now weeks behind vaccine target

UK vaccine success ‘got under skin’ of von der Leyen says expert

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The bloc is now seven weeks behind its goal of having 70 percent of adults vaccinated by the end of the summer, analysts have claimed. Insurance giant Euler Hermes estimates the hold-up will cost the 27 member states around €123 billion this year. In February, its analysts said the bloc was just five weeks behind its vaccination target.

And now, as a result of a substantial uptick in new Covid infections across EU nations, with the largest economies having reimposed new lockdown measures to curb the spread of the disease, the situation appears to have worsened.

In France, Germany and Italy, the wave of infections has sparked a new blame game in the row over the EU’s snail-paced rollout of jabs.

Charlotte de Montpellier, an economist at Dutch bank ING, said: “If you compare us with the US, where the outlook is so much more positive, we are falling further behind on the recovery because of this third wave.”

ING has slashed its Eurozone growth rates, now predicting an increase of just three percent this year, down more than half a percentage point from its previous forecast.

Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, said the EU should not expect to return to its pre-pandemic levels before the second half of 2022, a year behind the US.

He said: “We are revising down our forecast on Eurozone GDP growth due to the resurgence of virus cases, slow pace of vaccination and extension of lockdowns.”

Chris Williamson, chief economist at IHS Markit, added: ‘The outlook has deteriorated.”

The third wave of Covid infections on the Continent has proved much harder to bring under control than previous surges.

Health chiefs in Germany have warned they could see as many as 100,000 new cases a day unless they can stop the spread of the disease.

Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed the British variant for the “new pandemic” hitting her country.

And France’s Emmanuel Macron last week called on the European Union to beef up its already massive €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund as a result of the new wave.

President Macron said: “Following the second and third waves…we will no doubt have to add to our response.”

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France’s rollout of jabs has been sluggish at best – with critics hinting that the scheme has not helped the country’s fight against the pandemic.

It has delivered just 9.4 million shots of life-saving coronavirus vaccines since beginning late last year.

And Germany’s woeful mass vaccination scheme has left the country in the midst of a third wave of coronavirus infections.

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But just 14 percent claimed Mrs Merkel was responsible for the sluggish scheme, compared to the 26 percent pinning the blame on Mrs von der Leyen.

Authorities have so far distributed just 12 million jabs – with just 12 percent of adults receiving at least one dose – and are sitting on a reservoir of more than 3.6 million unused immunisations.

In contrast, more than 30 million people in the UK have now received their first vaccine dose and new cases are at a six-month low.

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