Ursula von der Leyen calls EU ‘team Europe’
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Mr Breton, who has responsibility for industrial policy, insists all EU citizens who want a jab will have the chance to have one by the end of the summer – despite the proportion of people receiving them so far being vastly below that of the UK. Speaking to French news channel BFMTV, Mr Breton said the EU had “won the war” of vaccination at the international level.
Referring to the difficulties the EU had experienced with the manufacture of coronavirus vaccines, he said: “A vaccine factory is the most complicated thing.
“Usually it takes five years to produce a new vaccine. There, we will have managed to do it in ten months.”
Mr Breton stressed “the objective of vaccinating by the end of the summer all those who want to” could be achieved without opening new manufacturing facilities.
He added: “It takes five years to open a factory, so we will use the ten factories that already exist.”
According to the Our World In Data website, the EU had administered just 4.88 doses per 100 people as of yesterday.
By comparison, the figure for the UK was 21.42.
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Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen last week acknowledged failings in the EU’s approval and rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 and said the bloc had learned lessons in the process after criticism of the slow roll-out of vaccines.
The European Union will this week kick off a new programme to study mutations in the COVID-19 virus, in a bid to prepare for the next generation of vaccines that might be needed, Ms von der Leyen told French newspaper Les Echos.
The programme, dubbed “HERA incubator,” will bring together health authorities and laboratories and have its own funding, Ms von der Leyen said.
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She added: “As of now, and in parallel to the efforts being made on the current vaccines, we have to help industrial companies develop production capacities for second generation vaccines.”
Separately, the bloc is holding talks with Moderna on buying more COVID-19 vaccine and AstraZeneca, with which talks have stalled, has suggested delivering doses of its own vaccine made outside Europe to make up for supply cuts, two EU sources said.
The European Union has struggled to secure the doses promised by pharmaceutical companies.
It is now trying to expand its reserve of vaccines, which already amount to nearly 2.3 billion doses from six drugmakers for its population of about 450 million.
The EU is negotiating a new supply deal with Moderna which could nearly double the volume of vaccine doses from the US biotech firm, two senior EU officials involved in the talks said.
They asked for anonymity as the talks are confidential.
Under the deal being negotiated, the EU would secure 150 million additional doses from Moderna, on top of 160 million that have already been booked and have started being rolled out last month.
France has had particular problems with its vaccine rollout, with President Emmanuel Macron coming in for fierce criticism.
Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, Dr Joseph Downing, an LSE Fellow in Nationalism at the LSE’s European Institute, said: “Now is the time to make some sort of amends and political capital out of the situation.
“The most important thing to get right now is this vaccine roll-out.
“And the fact that Macron has got it so wrong at the same time as being seen as the right-wing reformist figure, I think is disastrous.”
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