The European Union faces a potential 90 billion euro ($108.19 billion) hit to its economy this year unless it catches up with the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in other regions, a study showed on Wednesday.
EU governments are under fire over a slow start to vaccinations in the bloc, with critics pointing to progress made in Britain, Israel and the United States as evidence of a planning failure in Brussels and elsewhere.
To reach a goal of 70% immunity in adults by the summer, the EU would need a sixfold increase in the rate of vaccinations, according to the study by insurance group Allianz and credit insurer Euler Hermes, seen by Reuters ahead of publication.
At the current pace, herd immunity would not be achieved before 2022, the study said, adding that the longer it takes to vaccinate Europe’s population, the longer the economy will be hampered by restrictions and lockdowns.
“One euro that is spent on speeding up vaccinations (though infrastructure, increased vaccine production) could avert four times as many euros in losses,” it said.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday said that the EU had lagged rivals by three to four weeks because of a more rigorous approvals process. Supply problems should ease in the second quarter of 2021, but increasing production remained a challenge, she said.