After criticism, Europe approves vaccine shipment to Australia, other countriesFebruary 10, 2021
London: The European Commission says it will not block the first wave of coronavirus vaccine shipments to Australia, paving the way for the nationwide rollout to begin as planned.
In a widely criticised ploy to shore up its own supplies, the European Union last month gave itself sweeping powers over whether vaccines manufactured on the continent by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can leave the territory.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Europe “means business” on having its contracts honoured.Credit:AP
On Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen defended the EU’s approach of trying to beat the pandemic with a unified vaccine plan for its 27 nations, even as she admitted mistakes in the strategy to quickly obtain sufficient vaccines for its 447 million citizens.
“We are still not where we want to be. We were late to authorise. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production and perhaps we were too confident that, what we ordered, would actually be delivered on time,” von der Leyen told the EU Parliament.
Von der Leyen stuck with her promise to have 70 per cent of the EU’s adult population vaccinated by the end of summer and blamed big pharmaceutical companies for not keeping vaccine production up high enough.
“Indeed, industry has to match the groundbreaking pace of science,” she said.
“We fully understand that difficulties will arise in the mass production of vaccines. But Europe has invested billions of euros in capacities in advance, and we urged the member states to plan the vaccine rollout. So now we all need predictability.”
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