EC warns of further tightening of COVID-19 vaccine exports

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen warned on March 8 that the EU could take more tough measures related to banning the export of COVID-19 vaccines after Italy blocked shipments of vaccines. to Australia last week.

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium February 26, 2021. Photo: THX
European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium February 26, 2021. Photo: THX

According to a reporter in Berlin, in an interview with Germany's Economic Week (WIWO) magazine, EC President von der Leyen strongly criticized the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and defended the ban on exporting vaccines by Germany. EU. She stated: "The EU will no longer be a scapegoat. During the period from December 2020 to March 2021, AstraZeneca has only handed over to the EU less than 10% of the ordered goods." According to her, due to AstraZeneca's delay in delivery, in January 2021, the EC approved a transparent export mechanism, whereby companies must register to export vaccines to third countries and must be approved by other countries. approved by member states in consultation with the EU.

The EU's export mechanism has been controversial in the bloc, with many concerned that it could affect the EU's free trade. However, according to the EC President, export opportunities will be wide open if companies keep the signed contracts. She said 95% of export orders so far have belonged to BioNTech/Pfizer products, a European-made vaccine that has been shipped to more than 30 countries around the world.

Regarding the reason for the delay in the delivery of the vaccine to the EU, according to the EC President, AstraZeneca did not produce enough vaccine before it was approved as agreed in the contract. She also admits that Europe has not paid enough attention to building production facilities and underestimates the production process. She also said that in order to speed up the approval of the vaccine, the EC would have to shorten the process under the emergency approval mechanism, but this would be a complicated process involving legislation.

Last week, Italy for the first time blocked the shipment of 250,700 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, citing the shortage of vaccines in Italy and the EU, AstraZeneca's delay in delivery to the EU as well as Australia's lack of urgent need for a vaccine. . Meanwhile, other vaccine manufacturers are working hard to be able to supply vaccines to the EU.

According to the EC President, after the initial period of trouble, BioNTech and Pfizer companies have stable production processes and are working hard to achieve their delivery target in the first quarter of 2021 to the EU. Ms. von der Leyen also expressed her expectation that the EU could receive 100 million doses a month from next April, with a total of about 300 million doses by the end of June, when the production capacity of companies is increased as well as more vaccines are approved for use by the EU.

According to official figures, the EU, with a population of about 446 million people, has so far received a total of 51.5 million doses of the vaccine. There are currently three vaccines that have been licensed by the EU, including those from BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

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