Saturday, 19 June, 2021


EU Commission can put brakes on vaccine exports

By Canadian Press	
	 		EU leaders grapple with surge of infections vaccine issues By Canadian Press EU leaders grapple with surge of infections vaccine issues
Patty Aguilar | 27 March, 2021, 06:59

The EU is divided over whether to take a tougher line on vaccine exports by companies that do not meet contractual commitments.

It is "absolutely vital" that the EU continue working toward improving its vaccine production capabilities, European Council President Charles Michel said following the EU virtual summit.

"We want more transparency, and this is the goal of this mechanism put on the table by the Commission", he said after the European Union summit.

"I think it is clear that, first of all, the company has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, renewing a threat she made on Wednesday to stop the pharmaceutical giant exporting vaccines made in the EU.

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which procures jabs from Europe to Britain, warned the bloc that blockage of supplies to the United Kingdom - ie, export controls - risked creating, just the opposite, a "lose-lose" situation for all parties.

The Netherlands and Belgium, centres of European Union vaccine production, are skittish at talk of an embargo, fearful that disruption to global supply chains could hurt other firms' production.

"Our track record speaks for itself".

However, troubles are mounting at home, as the EU's supply chain is still undermined by the lack of deliveries that affect the roll-out of vaccines.

The UK would also appear to fall foul of the EU's new criteria on vaccination coverage, with 45 jabs administered per 100 residents, compared with 13 per 100 on average across the 27 member states.

And Johnson is also concerned that a ban that extends beyond UK-based AstraZeneca's disputed supply could also block vaccines produced in Belgium for BioNTech/Pfizer.

The situation could still change if the export mechanism is used.

Italian PM Mario Draghi did not rule out that in the absence of coordination within the EU, Rome would be able to order the Russian vaccine.

AstraZeneca is expected to deliver 30 million doses to the European Union in the first quarter - a pledge already radically reduced from the 120 million doses it was initially contracted to provide.

The single-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine will increase the array of vaccine available in the second quarter, providing countries with a valuable tool in fighting the pandemic.

An online summit held on Thursday discussed the vaccines, whose delivery has been delayed so far. "Efforts to this end must be further intensified", the leaders said.

The company started mRNA manufacturing at Marburg in early February after it bought the former Novartis site in September, right around the time its COVID-19 vaccine was making waves in clinical testing.

She noted she had not seen evidence of British-made jabs having left the country for the EU, whereas the European-made doses have been travelling to the UK.

This coalition of countries was lead by Austria, who threatened to veto the Council's final statement at a certain point of the meeting.

Stressing on worldwide cooperation, Dr Swaminathan said to CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the daily global death toll of 7,000-10,000 is "unnecessary and preventable", and that vaccines should be "equitably and fairly distributed around the world".

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