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28 Jan, 2021 15:50

EU should assess ‘all options’ & use ‘all legal means’ if Covid-19 vaccine supply debacle isn’t resolved – Brussels

EU should assess ‘all options’ & use ‘all legal means’ if Covid-19 vaccine supply debacle isn’t resolved – Brussels

The European Council president has warned that Brussels will take legal action to enforce the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines that were promised amid supply delays and EU demands for a share of UK-produced jabs.

“I support all efforts to resolve the matter with companies through dialogue and negotiation,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a letter to four EU leaders. It followed announcements by both AstraZeneca and Pfizer that vaccine deliveries will be delayed and will not meet the anticipated volume. 

If no satisfactory solution can be found, I believe we should explore all options and make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal under the Treaties.

On Wednesday, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that AstraZeneca should supply the EU with UK-produced vaccines to make up for manufacturing challenges at sites in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

“The view that the company is not obliged to deliver because we signed a best effort agreement is neither correct nor acceptable,” she added. 

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Limited access to vaccines has been a major reason for the EU’s slow progress in inoculating its nearly 450 million citizens with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine registering manufacturing challenges on the continent, although the latter is yet to be approved by Brussels.

UK Minister Michael Gove insisted on Thursday that there “will be no interruption” to British vaccine supplies from AstraZeneca following the EU’s demand. 

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The UK currently leads the way in Europe as vaccination programs against Covid-19 kick off. The best-performing mainland EU country, Denmark, has only vaccinated 3.7 people per 100, compared to 11.3 in the UK. 

Britain has also been one of the hardest-hit nations in Europe by the pandemic, registering more than 100,000 deaths and 3.7 million infections. Some estimates also suggest the virus has been much more prevalent than official data suggests.

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