AstraZeneca: Expert discusses EMA's stance on COVID vaccine
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Critics have blamed Brussels for holding member states back by failing to secure enough coronavirus jabs early on in the crisis. It comes as Germany this week recorded two record-breaking days for the number of immunisations administered. But instead of shouldering the blame, EU vaccines tsar Thierry Breton said the bloc was lagging behind Britain because suppliers had failed to deliver enough doses to member states.
German MEP Nicolaus Fest mocked the “muppets” in the Commission after eurocrats took responsibility for the joint buy-up of vaccines.
Last year, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen convinced member states to allow her to procure vaccines on behalf of the bloc.
She has since admitted the process was too slow but claimed without it the EU would’ve been at risk of collapsing.
Mr Fest told Express.co.uk: “It’s easy for the Breton to play the blame game and speculate about ‘what if’ scenarios.
“But the reality is that the blame for the slow rollout of the vaccines lies primarily as a result of the incompetence of the Commission.
“Germany’s vaccination programme is now thankfully in full swing, but the UK has shown that we’d have been much better off without the muppets at the Commission in charge.”
Italian MEP Paolo Borchia added: “The Commission thinks that the UK and US had a nationalistic approach.
“But, maybe it would be better for Breton to explain to EU citizens why massive exports were authorised to third countries, risking local vaccination centres’ campaigns. It’s an epic failure.”
So far, EU nations have only managed to administer 19 jabs per 100 people across the bloc.
In contrast, Britain has delivered almost 40 million doses – at a rate of 55 per 100 people.
Vaccination figures from Germany have been encouraging and show the country has been held back by the EU’s failures to the secure life-saving medical supplies, according to Mr Fest.
On Friday, health minister Jens Spahn reported that 719,927 jabs were administered in a single day on the previous day.
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Mr Breton, the EU’s single market commissioner, has blamed AstraZeneca for the bloc’s vaccination woes.
In a recent interview, the Frenchman said Brussels rollout would’ve been as successful as Britain’s if the firm had delivered more doses.
He said: “If AstraZeneca had delivered the way it should have delivered to us, like I understand it did in the UK, we will have been exactly in the same situation, even really better, than the UK today, which did a great organisation through the NHS to vaccinate people.”
As a result, Mr Breton, the head of the bloc’s vaccine task force, recently threatened to use the EU’s export controls to prevent shipments of the Oxford jab overseas.
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The Frenchman last week said “zero” doses made in the EU would be sanctioned for delivery to Britain until AstraZeneca fulfilled its contract with the bloc.
“AstraZeneca has a commitment”, Mr Breton added.
He added: “They have committed 70 million in quarter two and I know that 70 million is AstraZeneca’s production, more or less, of Halix and Seneffe [a plant in Belgium].
“This is why I think that they will deliver the commitment, but I just remind you that at the beginning the contract was 180 million, so they reduced drastically what they could do.”
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