EU leaders squabble over vaccine supplies, AstraZeneca shortfalls

ANI
·2-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Brussels [Belgium], March 26 (ANI): European Union leaders on Thursday met at a virtual summit designed to push AstraZeneca to speed up its deliveries of tens of millions of Covid-19 vaccines bound for the bloc.

CNN reported that the virtual summit exposed tense divisions within the EU itself; several countries expressed concerns that doses are being distributed unfairly around the region, and part of the meeting was hijacked by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who demanded a greater share of shots for his country.

"We have worked hard to ensure that the gap within the #EU in terms of vaccination coverage for the population does not widen any further," Kurz tweeted after the meeting, adding that he expects "a fairer delivery of vaccines in the EU" in the coming months.

CNN further reported that the bloc has been engaged in a tense back-and-forth with AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies to the bloc after the firm said it would not be able to meet its full delivery targets.

That shortfall has led to internal squabbles over which countries are prioritised when sought-after vaccine deliveries arrive. EU leaders agreed Thursday to tighten rules to allow for an export ban on vaccines but have so far stopped short on actually imposing a ban.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc will create "transparency" by introducing a principle of proportionality and reciprocity on vaccine supply chains.

In a swipe targeted at the UK, she added that she had "no knowledge so far of UK exports," essentially accusing it of implementing a de facto export ban. Von der Leyen said she was "waiting for that transparency."

"The bottom line is: we invite others to match our openness," von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen said she still expects to achieve the goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the EU's adult population by this summer. "But of course we all know we could have been much faster if all pharmaceutical companies had fulfilled their contracts," she added. (ANI)