COVID-19 vaccination rollout across Europe

Author Details
Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2020-
Content Type


Information Guide concerning the vaccination process carried out across Europe to address the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Further information:

COVID-19 vaccines aim at preventing the condition by triggering an immune response. Most of these vaccines trigger theses immune responses to a tiny fragment of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. If a person who has received a vaccine is infected by the virus later on, the immune system recognises the virus. As it is already prepared to attack the virus, the person's immune system is able to protect them from the disease.

The European Union became responsible for ensuring the authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines in the EU and the wider European Economic Area (EEA). In June 2020, the Commission published the so-called EU Vaccination Strategy. The European Council and the Member States also mandated the Commission to organise the joint procurement of vaccines. On 15 October, a further EC Communication was published on key elements to be taken into account by Member States in their national vaccination strategies.

A number of contracts - also known as Advance Purchase Agreements (APAs) - were signed between the European Commission and different pharmaceutical companies to develop a varied portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments. These included contracts for securing billions of vaccine doses produced by BioNTech-Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK; Johnson and Johnson; CureVac and Moderna. The first vaccine - produced by BioNTech-Pfizer - was formally authorised by the European Commission on 21 December 2020, following an assessment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and consultation with the EU Member States. Vaccination started across the EU on 27 December 2020. The vaccine produced by Moderna was approved by the Commission on 6 January 2021.

Elsewhere in Europe, the British government secured similar purchase agreements with a number of pharmaceutical companies. The UK's medicines authority (MHRA) authorised the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on 1 December 2020, in what was considered to be an extremely fast authorisation process. The first person was vaccinated against the disease in the United Kingdom on 8 December. In Russia, the National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology developed its own vaccine against COVID-19 as an alternative to the effort undertaken by (mostly western) pharmaceutical companies.

Selection of Official Websites and Useful Resources (check the latter half of the page for further sources):

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Politico: Coronavirus vaccination in Europe — by the numbers
Euro|topics, November 2020: Vaccines: the world between hope and scepticism
TIME, 02/12/2020: How the U.K. Approved Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Faster Than the U.S. and Europe
Euro|topics, December 2020: Green light for vaccine: time to celebrate?
Euro|topics, January 2021: Is the EU's vaccination campaign taking too long?
Euro|topics, January 2021: Covid vaccine: what to do about the sceptics?
Euro|topics, January 2021: Coronavirus vaccination: how is Europe progressing?

Euronews: Tag: Coronavirus vaccine
Politico, 10/09/2020: Europe eyes loophole for early distribution of unlicensed coronavirus vaccine
BBC News, 11/11/2020: Coronavirus: EU buys 300m doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine
Reuters, 19/11/2020: EU warns Hungary against use of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine
The Guardian, 23/11/2020: US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December
BBC News, 08/12/2020: Covid-19 vaccine: First person receives Pfizer jab in UK
France24, 15/12/2020: First EU Covid-19 vaccinations likely before end of year, bloc’s commission chief says
Deutsche Welle, 22/12/2020: Coronavirus vaccines cross Europe as countries ready for rollout
France24, 26/12/2020: European Union begins coronavirus vaccine rollout as new strain spreads
BBC News, 27/12/2020: Covid: EU starts mass vaccination in 'touching moment of unity'
The Guardian, 27/12/2020: EU launches mass Covid-19 vaccination as new variant spreads
Reuters, 28/12/2020: EU's marathon COVID vaccination drive off to uneven start
BBC News, 06/01/2021: Coronavirus: Dutch shocked to be EU vaccination stragglers
The Local (Norway), 11/01/2021: What's the latest on Norway's Covid-19 vaccine rollout?

Pfizer: Press Release, 21/12/2020: Pfizer and Biontech receive authorization in the European Union for COVID-19 vaccine
EU EMA: News, 21/12/2020: EMA recommends first COVID-19 vaccine for authorisation in the EU
EU ECDC: News, 21/12/2020: First COVID-19 vaccine authorised for use in the European Union
EU EMA: News, 06/01/2021: EMA recommends COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna for authorisation in the EU
European Commission: Press Release, 08/01/2021: Commission proposes to purchase up to 300 million additional doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine
European Commission: Questions and Answers: COVID-19 vaccination in the EU (8 January 2021)
European Commission: Statement by President von der Leyen on additional doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine (8 January 2021)
European Parliament: Press Release, 12/01/2021: COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs call for more clarity and transparency

ESO Records
Coronavirus Global Response Initiative

Subject Categories
Subject Tags ,
Countries / Regions
International Organisations
Record URL