EU chaos: Growing outrage at Brussels and Macron over Covid vaccine rollout blunders
EU vaccine: Expert details problems with Pfizer rollout
European Union leaders have come under fire for appearing to botch its mass vaccination programme across the bloc. Earlier today, the founder of BioNTech, which developed a landmark Covid vaccine with Pfizer, called out the EU for being “too slow” to secure a supply of the jab. There is also frustration among European countries at the slow pace of the immunisation, which is trailing behind the majority of its Western allies, including the UK.
France has been under the most pressure to speed up its vaccination programme, with only a few hundred doses administered so far compared to nearly a million in the UK.
Leading doctors and opposition figures have accused Emmanuel Macron of being unprepared for the challenges of the rollout.
President Macron responded in his televised New Year’s address last night by saying that he would “not let an unjustified slowness take hold, because of bad reasons”.
At the same time, Uğur Şahin, chief executive of BioNTech, the German vaccine-maker, criticised the EU’s strategy on obtaining vaccines, saying it had been too hesitant.
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He told Der Spiegel: “The process in Europe certainly wasn’t as fast and straightforward as in other countries.
“Partly because the European Union isn’t directly authorised, and the member states have a say.
“Clearly there was this impression that ‘we’ll get enough, and things won’t be so bad, and we have it under control.”
Mr Şahin suggested that the EU had wrongly assumed that several different vaccines would be ready at once.
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He explained: “It doesn’t look so rosy right now, a gap has emerged, because there’s a lack of other vaccines that have received approval and we have to fill this gap with our vaccine.”
A row earlier broke out inside the EU after it emerged that Germany had received more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine than any other countries under a roll-out scheme designed to ensure all member states were treated equally.
Politicians and public health officials in Italy were enraged when they discovered Germany had received 10 times the number of doses as Italy on the first day of the programme and have threatened a formal complaint.
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An editorial in the Corriere Della Sera daily newspaper said: “The Italian government was thinking of formally protesting against Germany over the choice to buy 30 million doses of the anti-covid vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.
“It was a decision that risked destroying the principle of solidarity between European countries, built with difficulty with centralised purchases by Brussels, to then be divided among the member states.”
Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and others each received 9,750 doses.
However, Germany, home to BioNTech which developed the vaccine with Pfizer, received 151,125 doses – almost 9,750 for each of the 16 German federal states.
Last week, anger at Brussels also erupted when Germany, Hungary and Slovakia all jumped the gun by starting their vaccination campaign 24 hours earlier than other EU countries.
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