Vaccine: Macron 'acting Trumpian' over UK rollout says Neil
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Brussels has been mocked over its painfully slow and arduous rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, forcing it to watch Britain surge ahead with its own programme to protect the population against COVID-19. The European Commission has come in for a barrage of criticism after vaccine suppliers, including Pfizer, announced delays in the delivery of jabs for the first three months of this year. Relations between London and Brussels took a further battering last month when the EU threatened to use emergency measures – triggering Article 16 of the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol – to stop coronavirus vaccines going from the bloc into Northern Ireland.
But now the bitter EU is attempting to strike out at the UK again.
French MEP Pascal Canfin tweeted: “To all those who spend their time criticising the European delay.
“It is worth watching the figures of the British Financial Times: 1 percent of the population of the EU has received two doses and is fully vaccinated, while in the UK: 0.74 percent!”
But one person hit back on Twitter: “The strategy of the UK is to vaccinate as many people as possible with one dose.
“Reduced to the dose administered per 100 inhabitants even the best European countries are pitiful.
“The European Union has injected 3 times fewer doses per 100 inhabitants than the UK.”
The latest chart from Our World In Data shows the share of the total population that has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which represents the share that has received all doses prescribed by the vaccination protocol.
If a person receives the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, this metric stays the same, but if they receive a second dose, it goes up by one.
As of February 8, it showed a 1.13 percent share of the EU’s population had been vaccinated against coronavirus, as opposed to 0.76 percent for the UK, which was measured a day earlier.
On Monday, Michael Gove demanded the EU provide an explanation for its brash move to invoke Article 16 and cause disruption in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
While taking questions from the European Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet Office minister insisted the EU must explain to its remaining 27 member states and to the UK why it decided to implement Article 16 in the coronavirus vaccine row.
Under the recently agreed Brexit Northern Ireland protocol, all products are permitted to be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without the need for additional checks.
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This is because following the end of the Brexit transition period, Northern Ireland remains in the Single Market for goods and operates with EU custom rules.
But the implementation of Article 16 means the EU or UK can unilaterally suspend aspects of this agreement.
During the meeting, Tory MP David Jones asked: “Why would you say that the EU were so quick off the mark, so trigger happy to actually initiate this process without going through the very detailed requirements of an Annex7?”
Mr Gove replied: “Again, I can only speculate but I think I should say two things.
“The first is that the speed at which the Commission acted took others, others in the Commission, not to mention outside with Ireland, by surprise.
“One of the things, If I may say so, is the Commission probably owes its member states a fuller explanation of why it acted in the way that it did.”
Most recently, the EU finalised a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for the supply of an additional 300 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.
Last November, Brussels secured 300 million Pfizer doses and announced a preliminary deal for 300 million more shots on January 8, subject to talks about the terms of the new contract.
A European Commission spokesman told Reuters on Monday: “The Commission has adopted the new contract today.”
An official close to the talks with Pfizer said that under the new contract, EU states have already placed orders for 200 million doses to be delivered this year.
Further talks about the timeline for the remaining 100 million shots are still ongoing.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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