Shots Fired: EU’s ‚Screwed-Up‘ Vaccine Roll-Out Mired in Controversy

Written by | Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
@Eubulletin

More than 17.5 million people, a third of adults in the United Kingdom, have had at least one vaccine shot since the country launched its inoculation campaign in late December. The British government has declared that every adult in the country should get a first coronavirus vaccine shot by 31 July, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as it prepared to set out a “cautious” plan to ease the UK’s lockdown. This news comes as the makers of the two vaccines that Britain is using, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, have experienced supply problems in Europe. But UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday (21 February) that “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign. The early success of Britain’s vaccination effort is welcome news for a country that has had more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe.
Meanwhile, a senior MEP, Guy Verhofstadt, has strongly criticised the EU’s vaccination strategy which has come under increasing fire in recent weeks. The former Alde group leader in the European Parliament has argued that although “Europe is the world leader in the production of vaccines … more than 75 percent of all vaccines are produced in Europe,“ there is a critical shortage in almost every member state and „the contracts that Europe has negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies … are very unbalanced.” According to the former prime minister of Belgium,the contracts are very clear in terms of price but not in terms of timing and supplies and the contracts must therefore be renegotiated. Verhofstadt is the most senior EU political figure to so far publicly criticize the EU vaccine strategy.
Despite these vaccine shortages across Europe, new analysis by global anti-poverty organisation The ONE Campaign claims to show – perhaps somewhat paradoxically – that the world’s richest countries are on course to accumulate more than 1 billion more doses than they would need to fully vaccinate all their own citizens. The analysis finds that the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, UK, and US have already secured a total of over 3 billion doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines, almost 1 billion more than the 2.06 billion needed to give their entire populations two doses. The EU alone, says ONE, has secured contracts for more than enough doses to vaccinate every European twice and have almost 500 million doses left. To date, the rest of the world has only been able to secure 2.5 billion doses and 130 countries have not yet received a single dose. “While Russia and China are already sharing COVID-19 vaccine doses with lower-income countries, the EU is losing ground in the race to deliver a global response to the pandemic,“ says Brandon Locke, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The ONE Campaign.

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