EU says it’s tired of being a scapegoat for slow vaccines
The European Commission is “tired of being the scapegoat” for the slow rollout of vaccines, its president, Ursula von der Leyen, said as she continues to face pressure over the EU’s uncertain response to the crisis.
In a blistering counter-attack against criticism over the European Union’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccination program, von der Leyen refocused blame on manufacturers, notably AstraZeneca Plc, which she said hadn’t stockpiled doses as it started producing in Europe.
As long as AstraZeneca “cannot explain why they did not deliver in Europe, we have a problem with seeing doses from Europe produced here in Europe going somewhere else,” she told a group of women journalists in Brussels. “I think it’s the responsibility of the company to organize its deliveries.”
AstraZeneca has so far delivered about 10.7 million vaccines to the EU, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Italy last week blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Australia, using a recently introduced EU regulation for the first time.
“If a company doesn’t not deliver, we cannot allow exports,” von der Leyen said. “From the very beginning I have supported Italy in its decision because as we see AstraZeneca is delivering below 10% of what has been contracted for the first quarter.”
Von der Leyen said things were improving in the EU, where monthly vaccine production is to be doubled. The commission sees output of 90 million to 100 million doses a month by the end of March.
“If you look at the rest of the world, we are very good where vaccination is concerned and the vaccination rates are rising,” von der Leyen said.