COVID-19 vaccine rollout is about more than just buying jabs, says expert

Many counties in Europe have failed to realise the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine involves more than just buying the jab in the first place, an expert has told Euronews.

Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the emergence of COVID variants had made immunisation more urgent.

It comes with the United Kingdom way ahead of other European countries on rolling out the COVID vaccine: it has administered more jabs than France, Italy, Spain and Germany combined. It approved its first vaccine just under three weeks before the EU.

« Many countries, I think, have failed to recognise the need to get an entire systems approach to this, » he said.

« It’s not just a matter of buying the vaccine, getting it into the country.

« It’s having all of the infrastructure in place to make sure that people are identified, contacted, invited and where there are people and groups in the population that are not taking up the vaccine, then messaging needs to be directed at them.

« This is a really large logistic operation. And unfortunately, we’re seeing the consequences in many countries of a failure to invest adequately in their public health systems. »

Prof McKee praised the UK’s vaccine rollout and said it was a « marked departure » from the country’s test and trace system.

« It’s [the vaccine rollout] is being done by the National Health Service and they obviously have the expertise on the ground and are delivering at pace and at scale. So that’s very good. »

But he was less positive about the UK’s speed at introducing restrictions in December when the COVID variant first emerged.

« I think there should have been a restriction on any movement out of the United Kingdom as soon as we realised that this was spreading rapidly, » he said. « Unfortunately, the virus has now spread to a number of other countries. In countries like Denmark, we can see that although the earlier variant is falling, the new variant is spreading. »

Watch the full interview with Prof McKee in the video player, above.