EU’s handling of coronavirus vaccine ‘criminally insane’ says host
Jörg Meuthen, the right-wing politician and leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has launched into a scathing attack against the under-fire European Commission President. He has raged Brussels has “failed across the board in getting the vaccine”, accusing Ms von der Leyen of not acting quickly enough at a time when the UK – which left the EU a few weeks ago – is streaking ahead in terms of vaccination numbers and doses available to its population of more than 60million.
The MEP told German weekly newspaper Junge Freiheit: “The EU failed across the board in getting the vaccine.
“While other countries such as Great Britain ordered larger amounts of vaccine months earlier, the EU under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen has failed to take action in time and then got bogged down hopelessly in contractual clauses with the pharmaceutical companies.”
The EU is currently embroiled in a bitter war of words with vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca over the delivery of its coronavirus jab.
The company was supposed to be delivering around 80million doses of its vaccine to the EU by the end of the month, but has warned it will miss this target due to major production issues.
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But embarrassingly AstraZeneca has announced that Britain, which has basked in its new-found freedom after fully completing Brexit, will be supplied with the ordered amount of vaccine.
The firm’s boss Pascal Soriot has defended the decision, claiming the UK had contractually ordered the vaccine three months earlier than the EU.
This latest disaster for the EU has left AfD leader Mr Muethen furious, raging that as defence minister, Ms von der Leyen has already shown she has become overwhelmed when it has come to procurement issues.
He has ordered the European Commission President to “do the right thing” by taking “responsibility for one’s own failure and to step back”.
The AfD leader said: “Now she has failed again at the EU level in the essential procurement of the anti-corona vaccine.
“This time the citizens are paying the price, in two ways.
“The protection against the deadly coronavirus is delayed and at the same time, the lockdown with its devastating effects for tradespeople, the self-employed, restaurants but also families, school children and residents of old people’s and nursing homes is extended.”
He added: “But being responsible also means taking responsibility. And this is what Frau von der Leyen should do now.
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“It has caused great damage, not only for Germany and its citizens but also for the entire EU.
“To admit this, to take responsibility for one’s own failure and to step back would be the only right thing the EU Commission President can do now.”
Earlier today, the EU’s fight to secure coronavirus vaccine supplies intensified when it warned drug companies such as AstraZeneca it will use all legal means or possibly block exports unless they agree to deliver the jabs originally promised.
The huge shortage of vaccine doses has seen vaccination centres in Germany, France and Spain postpone or delay patient appointments, with the EU publicly lashing out at AstraZeneca for failing to deliver, even asking if it could divert supplies from Britain.
A Brussels official told Reuters EU rules on monitoring and authorising exports of Covid vaccines in the bloc could see exports blocked if they broke existing contracts between the vaccine maker and Brussels.
European Council President Charles Michel wrote a letter to four EU leaders dated January 27 stating the bloc should explore legal means to ensure supplies of COVID-19 vaccines it contracted to buy if talks with companies over delayed deliveries continue to prove unsuccessful.
He said: “If no satisfactory solution can be found, I believe we should explore all options and make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal under the Treaties.”
Additional reporting by Monica Pallenberg.
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