Blog post

Fair vaccine access is a goal Europe cannot afford to miss – July update

European countries must do more to tackle the vaccine uptake gap. Vaccination data should be published at the maximum granularity level so researchers

Publishing date
14 July 2021

This is an update to the blog published in March 2021.

  • In a March 2021 blog post, we looked at those countries that were ahead in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. We observed that income inequality and the digital divide led to varying vaccination rates. Poorer individuals who lack digital skills or access to infrastructure were more likely to be at the end of the vaccine queue. We warned that Europe could replicate this tendency.
  • European data on local vaccination rates is scarce. However, France publishes daily vaccination rates at the level of the département, and Sweden and Belgium publish data at the more granular ’commune’ level. The evidence, summarised in our charts, suggests extremely strong links between income and vaccination rates within those countries’ largest cities.
  • Public authorities must pursue fair vaccine distribution actively. Measures targeted at the poorer segments of society, including communication and engagement campaigns, are necessary to ensure balanced uptake of vaccination. The available data for Europe confirms our worries: implemented measures in the parts of Europe for which there is data have not been sufficient to address the vaccine uptake gap.
  • Different levels of vaccine uptake have broad implications: those segments of society already hit hard by the pandemic are unduly penalised; economic reopening is held back; the legitimacy of vaccine passports is undermined.
  • We reiterate our call for European countries to do more to tackle the vaccine uptake gap. Vaccination data should be published at the maximum granularity level so researchers and local decision-makers can monitor progress.

About the authors

  • Mario Mariniello


    Mario Mariniello was Senior Fellow at Bruegel. He led Bruegel’s Future of Work and Inclusive Growth project, which closely analyses the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the nature, quantity and quality of work, welfare systems and inclusive growth at large. In particular, the role of technology in reshaping society when subject to extreme stress (i.e. during a pandemic).

    Before joining Bruegel, Mario was Digital Adviser at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), a European Commission in-house think-tank that operated under the authority of President Jean-Claude Juncker. The EPSC provided the President and the College of Commissioners with strategic, evidence-based analysis and forward-looking policy advice. In his capacity of Digital Adviser, Mario led the EPSC’s work on Digital Single Market issues.

    Mario has also previously been a Bruegel Fellow focusing on “Competition Policy and Regulation”. From 2007 to 2012, Mario was a member of the Chief Economist Team at DG-Competition, European Commission. During that time, he developed the economic analysis of a number of topical antitrust and merger cases in the technological and transport sectors.

    Mario holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Organization from the European University Institute of Fiesole (Florence) and a M.Sc. in Economics from CORIPE (Turin). He currently teaches a course in Digital Economy at the College of Europe and has previously taught a course in European Economic Integration for Master students at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

    Declaration of interests 2021

    Declaration of interest 2020

    Declaration of interest 2015

  • Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud

    Lionel worked at Bruegel as a Research Assistant until August 2022. He studied economics at the Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, in France. Before joining Bruegel, Lionel worked as a research assistant at the Department of Economics of Harvard University.

    His Master’s thesis investigated the impact of newspaper closures on anti-government sentiment in the United States. In addition to media economics and political economy, his research interests include fiscal policy and the digital economy.

    Lionel is a dual French and American citizen.

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