VDL blasts UK’s Covid vaccine scheme – and boasts she is proud of EU’s roll-out of jabs

BBC details how EU AstraZeneca vaccine row unfolded

The European Commission President said the UK had failed its “gigantic responsibility” to ensure proper the safety of the Covid jabs used in its programme. Amid growing anger over the bloc’s shambolic vaccination strategy, Mrs von der Leyen insisted Britain had only secured a head start over the EU because it had compromised on “safety and efficacy” tests. And Brussels’ most senior official bizarrely claimed the bloc should be proud of its vaccination effort despite it lagging desperately behind Britain’s roll-out of jabs.

She refused to apologise for the EU’s slow-moving programme and urged people to judge her at the end of her five-year term.

“I understand the anger and the emotion. But I am convinced that the European vaccination strategy is the right one,” Mrs von der Leyen told a group of European newspapers.

“Things went faster than expected, which is good news: we didn’t expect to start vaccinating until spring. We are on the right path.”

The EC President is facing calls to quit over the slow roll-out of Covid jabs across the bloc.

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The bungled scheme, which she has taken personal charge of, has only administered 12.74 million jabs, just under three percent of the EU’s 450-million population.

In contrast, Britain has delivered some 9.79 million doses, at a rate of 14.42 percent.

Pressed on why the UK is performing better than the bloc, Mrs von der Leyen criticised Downing Street’s use of emergency authorisations for Covid jabs.

She said: “Some countries started to vaccinate a little before Europe, it is true. But they resorted to emergency, 24-hour marketing authorisation procedures.

“The Commission and the member states agreed not to compromise on the safety and efficacy requirements linked to the authorisation of a vaccine.

“So, yes, Europe left it later, but it was the right decision. I remind you that a vaccine is the injection of an active biological substance into a healthy body. We are talking about mass vaccination here. It is a gigantic responsibility.”

Britain secured a three-week head start over Brussels by accepting to underwrite any future liabilities for the vaccines.

The EU has given the green-light to the three jabs used in the UK, which are made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, but delayed its approvals by insisting manufacturers take responsibility for any complications.

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Downing Street said the jabs used it in our scheme are “safe and effective”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has deemed the vaccines to be safe and effective and we have rolled them out to people on the basis of those who are the most vulnerable and those who are most likely to be hospitalised and sadly die as a result of the virus.”

He added: “No corners were cut, no stones were left unturned.

“The recommendations were based on an extremely thorough evaluation of all the data from the clinical trials and it’s on that basis the public should be confident of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.”

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Former Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker hit out at his predecessor’s scheme, insisting Mrs von der Leyen was “too slow” to secure doses of much-needed vaccines.

He also criticised Brussels’ attempt to blockade the export of vaccines to outside the bloc.

Mr Juncker said: “I am very much opposed to the European Union now giving the impression that we are taking care of ourselves and that the suffering of other people.”

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