Brussels, by comparison, took a conservative, budget-conscious approach that left the open market largely untouched. And it has paid for it.
In short, the answer today is the same as it was in December, said Dr. Slaoui. The bloc shopped for vaccines like a customer. The United States basically went into business with the drugmakers, spending much more heavily to accelerate vaccine development, testing and production.
“They assumed that simply contracting to acquire doses would be enough,” recalled Dr. Slaoui, whom President Donald J. Trump hired to speed the vaccine development. “In fact what was very important was to be a full, active partner in the development and the manufacturing of the vaccine. And to do so very early.”
The result in Europe is a stumbling inoculation effort that has led to political fallout, with leaders pointing fingers over why some of the world’s richest countries, home to factories that churn out vast quantities of vaccine, cannot keep pace with other wealthy nations in injecting its people.
Compared with nearly all the rest of the world, the European Union is in an admirable position. Its leaders say it remains feasible to vaccinate 70 percent of the Continent by this summer. The bloc has ordered enough doses to fully vaccinate its population at least three times, to the consternation of countries that will wait years for full coverage.
But Europeans are stung, especially, to see Britain’s rollout going so well after the country exited the bloc. Everyone wants to know why the E.U. has not triumphed.
‘Not Equipped for a Gunfight’
The European Union trailed the United States and Britain from the start.
Washington had already spent billions on clinical trials and manufacturing by the time Europe decided to pool its resources and negotiate as a bloc. In mid-June, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, announced a joint vaccine purchase with a $3.2 billion pot.