EU express ‘concern’ over delays of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
A third of the EU’s member states have lashed out at Brussels after receiving “insufficient” vaccine doses. This comes after six EU nations called the situation “unacceptable” and warned it “decreases the credibility of the vaccination process”. Brussels has come under severe criticism for the slow pace of its vaccine roll-out in comparison to the UK and even Turkey.
Pfizer confirmed claims that it would suffer a “short-term” reduction in vaccine deliveries due to works at its key plant in Belgium.
The drugmaker said: “Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January to early February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March.”
Germany’s health ministry said on Friday that it regretted the “unexpected and very short notice” announcement.
Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to apply pressure on Pfizer-BioNTech.
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Health ministers from the six Nordic and Baltic states expressed “severe concern” following the US company’s decision.
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, said she had “immediately” called Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive, herself after hearing the news about the supply.
The furious reaction to the delay highlights rising tensions between EU capitals and the European Commission, which is facing criticism over the bloc’s lagging immunisation rates when compared to the UK and US.
In comparison to the EU, the UK government has claimed it still planned to hit its target of vaccinating all priority groups by mid-February – about 15 million people.
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Turkey confirmed it had vaccinated half a million people in two days with vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.
This means that Turkey had vaccinated more people on the first day of its roll-out than France did in almost three weeks.
Emmanuel Macron has faced a barrage of criticism after it emerged that only 500 people had been vaccinated in the first week of the roll-out, which started in late December.
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Meanwhile, Edi Rama, the prime minister of Albania, accused the European Union of “only thinking of itself”.
The leader of Albania has hit out at Brussels over its “morally and politically unacceptable” COVID vaccine rollout.
He said: “If you see how the European Union has conceived this process, for the moment it has decided to think only of itself.
“It has been left to the discretion of member states to build interactive processes for vaccines in bilateral ways with non-EU countries.
“This is what the European Union has done, and it is unfortunate.
“I have said it since the first day, that it is not only morally and politically unacceptable, but it is also logically unjustified.”
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