COVID-19 Frustration: Dutch Vent Anger at Restrictions and Slow Vaccination Amid Supply Fears

Written by | Friday, January 29th, 2021
@Eubulletin

With fears mounting that more transmissible mutations are triggering a new surge in cases across the European Union, the EU executive has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the bloc. “There is currently a very high number of new infections across many member states, [so] there is an urgent need to reduce the risk of travel-related infections to lessen the burden on overstretched health care systems,” EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, warned earlier this week (25 January). While the EU has so far secured 600 million coronavirus vaccine jabs, criticisms have mounted over the slow rollout in a number of member states. More jabs are in the pipeline, as other vaccine candidates, such as the Moderna one are approved, and the bloc currently has enough doses in the offing to immunize some 80% of its population, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
However, Brussels has earlier this week warned pharmaceutical giants to impose export controls on COVID-19 shots produced with EU aid within its borders, urging them to deliver its shots on schedule. The vaccination roll-out within the bloc is lagging behind countries like Israel and Britain, despite having more than 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began. “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good,” von der Leyen said at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Tuesday (26 January). “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations,” the head of the EU executive stressed. The hardening of EU‘s position came days after it accused AstraZeneca of failing to guarantee the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines without a valid explanation. It also had expressed displeasure over vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer-BioNTech.
Meanwhile, the UK has now become the first European country to record more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, being the fifth country in the world to pass the milestone, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic”. “I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and as prime minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done,” Johnson said. With the AstraZeneca’s announcement that vaccine deliveries will be reduced for a few weeks and the death toll across Europe soaring, rioters have poured on to the streets of ten Dutch cities in recent nights in what has been the closest Europe has come to open revolt against the coronavirus restrictions imposed across the continent. The riots and violence in the Netherlands, the worst in decades, may well be attributed to the Benelux country as being the very last EU member state to start vaccinating the public, which is widely seen as offering some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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