Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

EU may have 'relied a little bit too much on the free markets' for vaccines, top scientist says

The United States and the United Kingdom are outpacing the European Union when it comes to vaccinating citizens against COVID-19. The main reason why that's the case, The New York Times reports, appears to go all the way back to last year.

Early on, the U.S. and U.K. governments threw a lot more money at, and were much more involved in, vaccine development than the EU, which "shopped for vaccines like a customer," the Times writes. Brussels "assumed that simply contracting to acquire doses would be enough," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who was hired by former President Donald Trump to oversee Operation Warp Speed's vaccine development, told the Times. "In fact," he added, "what was very important was to be a full, active partner in the development and manufacturing of the vaccine. And to do so very early."

Dr. Steven Van Gucht, the Belgium government's top virologist, seemed to agree, telling the Times he thinks European leaders "relied a little bit too much on the free markets. What you really need to do from the beginning is really make sure you produce the vaccines on your territory and that they're destined for your own population."

There is good news, though. The EU purchased enough doses to fully vaccinate its population three times over, and supply is expected to increase steadily in the next few weeks, leaving EU officials confident the bloc can hit the 70 percent vaccinated threshold by this summer. Read more at The New York Times.