Humiliation for EU as Italians forced to look to Serbia for Chinese and Russian vaccines

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Although not approved by the European Medicines Agency, Italian doctors are attempting to book vaccine appointments in Serbia. With Serbia being outside of the EU, vaccine numbers have risen after the government agreed a deal with China and Russia for their respective Sinopharm and Sputnik V jabs. According to Italian papers, doctors are now attempting to gain vaccines in Serbia as 26 percent of the population in the nation have now been inoculated.

As reported by the publication, Corriere della Sera, Italian citizens are now booking appointments through the Serbian consulate in Milan and the embassy in Rome.

Outside of the EU, Serbia received a shipment of 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine which arrived over the weekend.

Overall, the Serbian government has reported 2.5 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped to the country.

By the end of April, Serbia is expected to vaccinate 40 percent of the population while the EU flounders with its own inoculation programme.

Due to this, Serbia is now reporting a vaccine rate of 38.12 per 100 people while Italy is recording a rate of 18.34.

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi revealed last month that he was prepared to secure a deal for the Sputnik V vaccine.

He also insisted Italy may push forward on its own path if EU coordination isn’t possible going forward.

Indeed, in a further blow to the EU programme, new figures have shown just five member states have reached the goal of vaccinating 80 percent of the over-80s by the end of March.

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Thierry Breton the EU Commission for vaccine supply and distribution claimed AstraZeneca had been to blame for the issues surrounding the rollout.

He said: “If we had received 100 percent of AstraZeneca’s vaccines that were contracted to us, the European Union would be at the same level today as Great Britain in terms of vaccines.

“So I can say that the turbulence we have experienced is solely due to AstraZeneca’s failure to deliver.

“In the first quarter, AstraZeneca delivered only a quarter of the doses we ordered, while the British received all of them, even though our contract was signed before them, in August 2020.”

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The Commission has also set the target of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by the end of the summer.

However, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, full vaccine take-up across the EU is under 10 percent for multiple states.

Italy has only vaccinated 5.9 percent of its population while some countries have not used the full number of jabs they have been issued by the Commission.

The Netherlands is only using 65.7 percent of all vaccine doses it has – the lowest in the bloc.

Due to these low numbers, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has insisted he made the right decision to branch out from the EU’s procurement programme.

Mr Orban said: “I’ll try to speak modestly, but I can’t play it down any more than to say that I was completely sure of it.

“So sometime around November, it could already be seen that the vaccines ordered from the West wouldn’t arrive on time.

“The European Commission ordered the vaccines and it also signed the contracts, but it bungled something.

“And suddenly I, too, saw that Britain, the United States, Israel and Serbia were – and would be – ahead of Europe in vaccination.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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