Viktor Orban hits out at EU over coronavirus vaccine roll out
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The firebrand leader claimed the legal experts behind the bloc’s joint procurement of Covid jabs would have been fired in normal jobs. And Mr Orban said he accepted being injected with the Chinese-backed Sinopharm vaccine because its manufacturers are respecting their contractual commitments, unlike other firms with deals signed by the European Commission. In a radio interview, he said: “The other night I cast a lawyer’s eye over these contracts that the Commission concluded with the large Western European pharmaceutical companies.
“Considering how much work they put into it, it would perhaps be unfair to call them a patchwork; but they didn’t focus on what is necessary.
“I don’t think that a legal intern making such contractual errors would be hired – or at least they’d be shown the door quite quickly. The problem is that our contracts are unenforceable.”
Mr Orban, who has a law degree from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, insisted it was a mistake to give Brussels sole power to secure coronavirus vaccines for the bloc.
Amid a worrying supply draught across the bloc, the Hungarian leader reached out to Beijing and Moscow to purchase doses of their controversial Covid jabs.
He said: “This is why I opted for the Chinese vaccine.
“The Chinese are honouring their contractual obligation to the letter. Our orders from the European Union are a tragedy, deliveries are constantly delayed and rescheduled.”
The EU’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines has been desperately slow, with eurocrats blaming a shortfall in doses due to be delivered by UK-based pharma giant AstraZeneca.
The firm slashed its delivery targets for the first three months of the year because of production hiccups at European manufacturing facilities.
It has said it will have to source half of its planned second-quarter supply to the EU from elsewhere in the world.
AstraZeneca insists that it remains on track to hit its target to deliver 40 million doses to the bloc by the end of March.
It was originally meant to ship at least 100 million doses to EU member states in that time.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has taken personal charge for the roll out of jabs, has said the bloc should blame vaccine-makers for the delays.
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In an interview today, she said: “We’re tired of being the scapegoat.”
The top eurocrat attempted to shift the blame for the sluggish vaccines programme from Brussels to the manufacturers.
She added: “As long as they cannot explain why they did not deliver in Europe, we have a problem with seeing doses from Europe produced here in Europe going somewhere else.
“I think it’s the responsibility of the company to organise its deliveries.”
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Mrs von der Leyen largely blamed AstraZeneca for the current shortfall of jabs across the bloc, adding that Pfizer and Moderna were working hard to respect their contracts.
According to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, AstraZeneca has only delivered 10.7 million jabs to the bloc.
She suggested the EU could use its vaccines export ban to target the Anglo-Swedish firm after Italy last week used the mechanism to block a shipment of 250,000 jabs to Australia.
Mrs von der Leyen said: “If a company doesn’t not deliver, we cannot allow exports.
“From the very beginning I have supported Italy in its decision because as we see AstraZeneca is delivering below 10 percent of what has been contracted for the first quarter.”
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