Online news media platform CAPX has recently published an article about the »vaccine battle« between AstraZeneca and the EU, written by Kai Weiss and titled “What does the vaccine fiasco promise for ‘European solidarity’?”
Mr. Weiss has pointed out that the European Commission has acted slow, bureaucratic, and protectionist. And when something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault”. In other words, the EU is blaming the pharmaceutical companies for its own failures. As if that was not enough, the EU has started an argument with the UK, which was smart enough to order its own vaccines three months before the EU.
Regarding AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, Mr. Weiss warned that the situation remains confusing. The company argues that “argues it doesn’t have an obligation to ship the 80 million doses to the EU that is committed to, since it only has a “best-effort” contract, meaning it will try to ship as many as possible without being bound to a particular number.” He said that, regarding the EU-UK argument, whoever ordered first should get it first. The EU claims that the companies have a “moral responsibility” that they need to uphold. But it seems that for the EU, this responsibility doesn’t extend to other countries.
It is difficult to decide who is actually right in the debate, and AstraZeneca is not really helping by refusing to publish the contract and back up its claims. But Mr. Weiss also said that the fact that “the EU leaders are now trying to make companies seek approval to ship vaccines outside the bloc shows just how desperate they are getting”. “Europe’s vaccination catastrophe is not a story of bad luck, but of political and bureaucratic ineptitude” on the part of both Brussels and national governments.
While the troubles with the European Medical Agency’s slow approval of vaccines, when compared with UK or Israel, are well documented, the bigger problem is that “there simply haven’t been nearly enough vaccines even when they have been authorized”, he goes on, stating that while Israel has vaccinated 31% of the population, the UK 10.7 %, and the U.S.A. 6.5%, the EU is stuck back at 1.7%.
“Whereas Israel and the UK, in particular, have ramped up its strategy to vaccinate ever more people per day, the EU has been stuck in stagnation. And while there certainly have been problems in many member states to actually procure the vaccines that they have received, the main problem is that there haven’t been enough doses”, Mr. Weiss writes. He is also of the opinion that “the EU has undermined its own strategy by playing hardball on price”.
According to him, it has become clear that the EU “has undermined its own strategy by playing hardball on price«. It initially focused on AstraZeneca because its vaccine is significantly cheaper than that of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Mr. Weiss says that it is understandable for the European Commission not to admit this since there would be immense repercussions. But we also warn that “mismanagement on this scale has the potential to seriously undermine the relationship between Brussels and national governments”.
“It seems that even in the grip of the worst crisis the EU has ever faced, national interests took precedence over that famed “European solidarity”” he concludes.
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