EaP Bulletin No 16: Vaccination Emergency in Eastern Europe

Michael Emerson, Denis Cenusa, Tamara Kovziridze, Veronika Movchan, Artem Remizov, Benyamin Poghosyan, Andrei Yahorau

Covid-19 vaccines contracted and administered by the EU


Since our last Bulletin of three months ago much of the world has been hit by the severe 3rd wave of infections. In most of Europe the peak is now passed, and a few countries have virtually stopped the pandemic (UK notably).


The vaccination story, however, is more sharply differentiated. The EU has surged ahead with mass vaccination having reached 50% of the population with at least one dose, and thus catches up closer to the leading scores of US and UK with a timelag of about two months.


Elsewhere in Europe the Balkans make progress with an average of around 16 % coverage.


But the Eastern Partnership region is way behind, with an average of only 5.8% coverage. The Association Trio (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) + Armenia average even less at 4%, with Ukraine at only 2.7%.


Also, it seems surprising that Russia, in view of its domestic vaccine development, only registers 11.6% coverage still, presumably reflecting some combination of vaccine scepticism in the population and production limitations. 


The EU is procuring massive excess supplies of vaccines beyond its own needs. This has been positive so far for the international public interest in securing the basis for the pharmaceutical industry to ramp up investment and production. However it has to be followed through with corresponding planning for distribution to medium and low income countries, with full information needing to be pubished urgently so that potential beneficiaries can themselves plan.


The Eastern Partnership now stands out as the most acutely undersupplied region in Europe, with the whole European neighbourhood warranting special attention given its physical proximity to the EU. We advocate that the EU pledges a total of around 50 million doses to the Eastern Partnership states.