The good news for Europeans is that they will not soon face the dearth of vaccines because of prudent and bold efforts by their union to secure a portfolio of more than two billion vaccine doses from six globally renowned producers for its less than half a billion people.
With the big hopes that mass vaccination will tame the pandemic and bring an end to sufferings and accelerate economic recovery, all 27 EU member countries rolled out the vaccination on the same day around two weeks ago.
But, the mission is now facing the difficulty of reality. The programme could not gather the required pace to keep the hopes high offering food for other nations preparing to roll out vaccination.
What went wrong recently with the EU?
The New York Times' report on Wednesday listed some of the reasons.
There are shortages of needles in Italy, Greece and other countries. Spain has not trained enough nurses. France has only managed to vaccinate around 7,000 people. Poland's vaccination programme was rocked by scandal after it was revealed that celebrities were given preferential treatment. Nearly every country in Europe has complained about burdensome paperwork, reads the NYT report.
In a scathing article, The Economist says on Wednesday Europe has fallen behind on Covid-19 vaccination. The leisurely rollout of vaccines risks extending the pandemic for months.
The delay has become a political time-bomb in just about every EU member as lockdowns are tightened, says The Economist, adding that health professionals are blaming politicians, politicians are blaming each other, and everyone is wondering whether the European Commission, the EU's executive arm in Brussels, which coordinated the procurement of vaccines, has been up to snuff.
Therefore, today's news tells an opposite story: Europe's fledgling recovery is now at risk as pandemic worsens.
The euro-area economy showed signs of improvement at the end of last year, says Bloomberg, the progress that now risks being derailed by longer pandemic lockdowns and discontent over the pace of vaccinations against the coronavirus.
A day before, the World Bank came up with a revised forecast for Europe. In June, it said the European economy will grow by 4.5% after the worst contraction of 7.4% last year.
But, the latest report says it will grow by 3.6%.
The global lender also revised the forecast for the global economy. It says this year's global economic rebound from the deepest recession since World War II will be slightly slower than previously expected amid a resurgence in virus cases across advanced economies. Gross domestic product will expand 4% in 2021 – less than the earlier projection of 4.2%.
The latest situation in some advanced economies, especially the USA and the EU, contributed to making the outlook gloomy for the global economy.
The situation the EU is going through offers food for thought for other countries, including Bangladesh, that are preparing to launch vaccination.
In spite of having a strong healthcare system and advanced economies, the EU is scrambling in gearing up vaccination – a Herculean task.
The EU experiences indicate the mass vaccination task is a much bigger challenge for other countries such as Bangladesh having poor healthcare infrastructure and lack of skilled manpower and accountability.
Bangladesh has designed a masterplan to vaccinate 14 crore people, 80% of its population, in the next two years.
It has signed a deal to secure three crore doses of Oxford vaccines from India in next six months though it remains uncertain when they will start arriving here. The officials are exploring other sources to secure vaccines.
The administration preparing for rolling out the vaccination programme may study the EU vaccination experiences to check if there is anything to learn.
The remarks made by Portugal's health minister on the day the EU rolled out vaccination are noteworthy. "A window of hope has now opened, without forgetting that there is a very difficult fight ahead."