Some European Union countries, including Italy, Denmark and Belgium, have already passed the U.S. by the percentage of people who have received at least one vaccine dose, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, an Oxford University project tracking the global vaccine rollout.
The U.S. is still ahead of the bloc as a whole, with about 54% of people partially vaccinated, compared with 49% in the EU. A quick vaccine rollout is key for keeping infection rates down and deaths to a minimum, and opens the prospects to a faster economic rebound.
Europe took longer to approve the first vaccines and then suffered from delivery delays and a lack of infrastructure to administer shots on a mass scale.
Europe will probably pass the U.S. in the percentage of the population with at least one dose within the next three weeks, said Enrico Bucci, a systems biologist at Temple University who studies epidemics.
As the percentage of the population that is vaccinated rises, it will become evident whether Europe will face the vaccine hesitancy the U.S. has experienced.