EU made ‘mistake’ on Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine says expert
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Critics were quick to point out that “going it alone” had seen the UK surge ahead of the EU in the race to get people vaccinated against the virus and reopen the economy. EU member states handed responsibility for vaccine purchase to the European Commission, rather than buying as individual countries. But the Commission failed to order enough of the right vaccines resulting in serious shortages across the continent, bitter disputes between member states and a furious backlash against the bloc’s leadership.
Going it alone is working well for the UK
Mr Verhofstadt, who was the European Parliament’s lead negotiator throughout the Brexit process, spoke out after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said EU members states should not depend on Brussels for vaccine production.
The senior Belgian MEP tweeted: “Wrong conclusion drawn from a legitimate fear.
“The real answer is: We should be able to depend on the EU to get us our vaccines on time.
“Going it alone won’t ever work, connected as we are. “Up to Ursula von der Leyen’s European Commission to prove cooperation does work!”
His tweet was seized upon in the UK which has blazed a trail with its high-speed mass vaccination programme which has so far delivered jabs to more than 20 million citizens.
One Twitter user said: “Going it alone is working well for the UK.
“Over 20m (40 percent of the adult population) have now been vaccinated and consequently hospitalisations/deaths are plummeting, particularly among the elderly.
“When final data is out, how many excess deaths will have been caused by EU mishandling? Scandalous.”
Another said: “I think the UK has proved that going it alone works very well.”
Another said: “And yet the UK did go it alone and we have vaccinated 20 million people while the EU are miles behind because of the cumbersome nature of how it is set up and run.”
Another reader said: “Has the EU changed its mind on the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine yet? I wonder how many lives have been lost there. Best advert for Brexit ever!”
And another said: “I think we the UK have proved going alone without the EU works very well indeed.”
Mr Verhofstadt has himself been a vocal critic of the shambolic EU vaccine strategy and at the weekend lashed out at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for failing to keep up with other countries in the race to approve COVID-19 vaccines.
He said: “Every day counts in deaths, economic damage, public trust and – as AstraZeneca case shows – access to production.
“EU has all the facilities to compete, but not the procedures!”
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The European Commission is now considering emergency approvals for Covid-19 vaccines as a faster alternative to more rigorous conditional marketing authorisations which have been used so far.
The move would mark a massive shift in approach to vaccine approvals, as it would entail using a procedure that the EU had considered dangerous and that before the pandemic had been reserved for exceptional authorisation at national level of drugs for terminally ill patients, including cancer treatments.
The potential change comes as the EU executive and the bloc’s drug regulator come under increasing pressure for what some consider slow vaccine approvals, which have contributed to a slower rollout of Covid shots in the 27-nation union, compared to the UK and USA.
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