Did VDL lie about EU’s 70 percent vaccine milestone? Experts cast doubt over chief’s claim

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The European Commission President this week announced the milestone, hailing it as a “great achievement which really shows what we can do when we work together”. But statistical gurus were puzzled when even the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s own data appeared to show the target had not yet been reached. The EU’s own agency had its vaccine rollout tracking at 67.4 percent on the day of the Commission’s announcement.

Using figures published by Our World in Data, a trusted source of information on the pandemic by many international organisations, just 57.7 percent of the EU’s entire population had been fully vaccinated as of August 31.

Our World in Data’s head of data Edouard Mathieu also cast doubt over the EU’s claim that it had fully vaccinated 70 percent of its adult population.

He told the Politico news website: “Looking at the numbers of adults in the EU according to the latest UN population estimates and the number of fully vaccinated people in different age groups in the available datasets, it does not seem plausible that 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated yet.”

In its announcement on Tuesday, the Commission said “over 256 million” people across the bloc had been fully vaccinated.

But numbers from the European Centre for Distance Prevention and Control suggested there had been just 245 million fully vaccinated adults – 11 million short of the Commission’s figure.

Using Eurostat population estimates by age group to calculate the number of adults in the EU in 2021, this would result in adult vaccination coverages of 67 percent.

A Commission spokesman blamed the discrepancy on a lag in the data on the ECDC website and corresponding public data set lag of several days.

The ECDC also acknowledges this data-lag on its website.

It says: “EU/EEA countries may upload data at any time, but as a minimum they are requested to report twice a week (on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

“The data in the tracker are refreshed at 11h, Monday to Friday.

“Considering this reporting timeframe and the time ECDC needs to process the data, some discrepancies may be observed between the figures published by ECDC and the ones presented in official national reports or web sites.”

The Brussels-led vaccine rollout across EU nations was heavily criticised for its sluggish start after the bloc struggled with supply issues.

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But member states have since been able to ramp up their vaccination rates in recent months.

However, there are still huge differences in rates between the bloc’s western and eastern countries.

While at least 255 million people have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus in the EU, the situation differs massively between countries.

Malta has fully vaccinated over 90 percent of its adult population, according to the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control.

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Ireland and Portugal have immunised more than 80 percent of their adult population, while France is about 70 percent, data from the EU agency shows.

But in the east, Bulgaria has only vaccinated just one-fifth of its adult population, and Romania about 30 percent of adults.

Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia and Slovakia are also lagging behind their western partners, having jaded about half of their adult populations.

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