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Portugal leads the world in COVID-19 vaccinations

September 25, 2021, 10:30 AM UTC

Portugal is leading the world in vaccinations, with about 84% of its population fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to Our World in Data.

The European country started vaccinating at the same pace as other European countries but due to an efficient vaccination campaign and low levels of anti-vaccine sentiment among its citizens, it has pushed far ahead of other countries.

Spain has the second highest rate of vaccination of European countries, with 77.2% of its population fully vaccinated.

Because of the country’s efforts, it is now within reach of its goal to vaccinate 85% of its citizens and will suspend most of its COVID restrictions starting on Oct. 1. Masking will still be required in transit and other indoor areas.

Much of the credit for Portugal’s success is due to Rear Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a naval officer who took charge of the country’s vaccine rollout in February. He pivoted the vaccination campaign away from small scale distribution and instead mobilized large vaccination hubs in sports halls across the country.

As the number of shots has risen, the number of cases of COVID and the rate of hospitalizations have dropped to their lowest levels in 18 months.

While Portugal leads Europe in vaccinations, other countries also fully vaccinated a large portion of their citizens including the United Arab Emirates (81.17%), Singapore (77.34%), and Uruguay (73.51%).

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