Many parts of Europe are seeing a rise in Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions, while the World Health Organisation says the rollout of vaccinations across the region remains “unacceptably slow”.
Only 10 per cent of Europe's population have received one vaccine dose, and 4 per cent have completed a full course, the WHO's European head Hans Kluge said on Thursday.
Mr Kluge said new infections in Europe were rising in every age group except those aged over 80, a sign that the vaccinations that have gone to older groups are working but that the stuttering rollout was leaving younger people vulnerable.
Ireland, which at the beginning of the year had the worst coronavirus infection rate in the world, is now below the European average for new cases.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show Ireland has reported 157 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over the 14-day period to March 28th.
Within the European Union, only Portugal (60) and Denmark (131) have a lower incidence of the disease.
The same data shows Hungary with the highest infection rate in Europe.
The central European country of 10 million reported 1,197 cases per 100,000 on a two-week basis.
Hungary has had the highest daily per capita fatalities in the world for several days, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Its health care system has come under extreme stress, the government has said, despite vaccinating a fifth of the population in one of the fastest inoculation drives in Europe.
Hungary's vaccination campaign has reached 2 million people with at least a first dose and more than 760,000 with a second as the country has used Chinese and Russian vaccines alongside Western ones.
Its vaccine imports are the highest per capita in the European Union, according to EU figures.
According to the latest available data on April 1st, Ireland has a vaccination rate about the EU average, with 16.3 doses administered per 100 people.
Malta, Hungary, Estonia and Denmark have the fastest rollouts in the EU.
The UK, Serbia, Turkey, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have also administered more vaccines per head of population than Ireland.
In absolute numbers, Germany is the EU country with the most doses administered, with 13.8 million given out.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s plan to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccine rollout in April has been dealt a blow, after the Tánaiste said there will be a drop in the expected number of vaccines delivered this month.
Leo Varadkar said that fewer than a million doses of the vaccine will be delivered in April.
Last week, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told the Dáil that 1.1 million doses were scheduled to be delivered over the next four weeks.
“I would like to get about a million a month through April, May and June, but it will be less than a million in April, more than a million in May and June,” Mr Varadkar said on Thursday. – Additional reporting: Reuters, PA