EU: Expert slams Ursula von der Leyen on vaccine rollout
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Brussels became embroiled in a row with vaccine maker AstraZeneca when the drugs firm admitted it couldn’t fulfil its supply of jabs to the bloc due to significant production issues. This has sparked a massive backlash from the remaining 27 EU member states, who are furious with Brussels over the extremely slow rollout of Covid vaccines in the face of the ongoing pandemic. Leading EU nations France and Germany have also questioned and criticised the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
They had both refused to administer it to people over the age of 65 before performing an embarrassing U-turn.
Earlier this week Italy, supported by the European Commission, banned the planned export of around 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Australia, sparking a furious reaction around the world.
Now prominent Brexiteer Rupert Lowe has questioned whether the latest controversy could finally spell the end of the EU.
He also lashed out at Brussels, describing the EU as “nasty, vindictive and overpaid bureaucrats who are woefully out of their depth”.
Mr Lowe tweeted: “Now the EU are desperate to block exports of the Oxford vaccine which they’ve spent weeks trashing.
“Is the Brussels vaccine fiasco where the project begins to unravel?
“Nasty, vindictive and overpaid bureaucrats who are woefully out of their depth.”
Australia has asked the European Commission to review the decision by Italy to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The Southern Hemisphere country also stressed missing doses of the jab would not impact on the rollout of its inoculation programme.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision.”
He added Australia had already received 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, which he insisted would last until local production of the jab increases.
Despite the global condemnation and while seeking the intervention from the European Commission, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he could understand the reasons for Italy’s objection.
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He said: “In Italy people are dying at the rate of 300 a day.
“And so I can certainly understand the high level of anxiety that would exist in Italy and in many countries across Europe.”
The stern move from Italy comes just days after new Prime Minister Mario Draghi told other EU leaders the bloc needs to accelerate vaccinations and crack down on pharma companies that have failed to deliver on promised supplies.
Vaccinations in EU countries began at the end of last year but are moving at a much slower pace than many other nations around the world.
EU officials have continued to pin the blame on supply problems with key manufactures involved in the rollout of Covid vaccines.
On Thursday, Italy’s health ministry announced the country will administer only a single vaccine does to those infected with coronavirus between three and six months beforehand.
They have now become the third European country after France and Spain to follow this plan in a move to apparently save shots amid the stuttering inoculation rollout in the bloc.
Italy had administered 4.76million vaccine doses by early Thursday, with more than 1.5 million receiving the recommendation of two jabs.
Overall, the country has received just 6.3 million vaccine doses from manufacturers, with the repeated supply delays again severely impacting inoculation efforts.
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