EU Members Criticized for Slow Rollout of Vaccine
Members of the European Union (EU) have been called out for their sluggish rollout of the coronavirus vaccine as their two largest economies extended virus restrictions amid the surge in the number of infections.
According to a report by CNBC, a number of European officials have asked the European Commission—the EU’s executive arm—to explain why it has yet to increase the supply of the vaccine.
“It is difficult to explain that a very good vaccine is developed in Germany but is vaccinated more quickly elsewhere,” said Markus Soder, leader of the German region of Bavaria, in an interview over the weekend.
He was referring to Germany-based Pfizer which was one of the frontrunners in the manufacture of the vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech.
The EU has begun its vaccination program late in December following the bloc’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. Despite being developed in Germany, the vaccine was first approved by the UK and the United States before securing the green light of European authorities.
To date, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said that there were over 17 million reported cases of the coronavirus in the region. The data included cases in the United Kingdom, the most recent country that withdrew from the bloc.
At a news briefing over the weekend, BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin was quoted as saying that European authorities were not as fast and straightforward in approving the vaccine as other countries.
Luis Garicano, a European lawmaker, wrote in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over the weekend that the commission “must rise to the occasion.
“To this end, how will the EU make up for the lack of purchased dosses in the Union?” he pointed out.
The commission has so far signed six contracts with vaccine manufacturers on behalf of European countries, with each nation receiving the vaccine at the same time while distribution will be on a per-capita basis.
Among the signed contracts included that with Pfizer-BioNTech for the purchase of more than 200 million doses with the option to buy 100 million additional shots.
The commission also agreed to buy 300 million doses from AstraZeneca with the option to buy 100 million more.
Meanwhile, the contract with Moderna covered 80 million doses with an upsize option of up to 80 million.
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