EU's 'shambolic' vaccine rollout criticised by Ann Widdecombe
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Mr Scholz, Germany’s finance minister as well as being the leader of the Social Democratic Party, launched his angry tirade during a cabinet meeting. The stinging criticism, highlighted by the Financial Times, underlines the ongoing tensions against a backdrop of severe vaccine shortages.
Olaf Scholz’s frank assessment of the EU’s performance
Mr Scholz hit out last month, referring to EU’s approach as “a total s**tshow” in a Cabinet clash which encapsulates the frustration brewing in the bloc.
An analysis published by Politico indicated if current trends continue, the UK will have vaccinated 97 percent of its population by the end of the summer, compared with 28 percent for Germany.
The best-performing EU country, Malta, would only manage to inoculate 64 percent by the end of this period, the analysis suggests.
Mr School is not the only one to be highly critical of the EU’s approach.
Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, speaking of the European Medicines Agency, declared “the EMA is too slow”, while Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has clashed with Brussels on numerous occasions, said: “I’m not waiting.”
In recent days, Mr Kurz’s country, together with Denmark, Austria, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, have followed Hungary’s lead in breaking ranks to look beyond Europe’s borders for doses.
The European Commission yesterday said it would consider emergency approvals for COVID-19 vaccines as a faster alternative to the more rigorous conditional marketing authorisations which it has relied on up to now.
Such a change would represent a huge shift, because it would involve using a procedure which the EU has up to now considered dangerous and that before the COVID-19 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-19 shots in the 27-nation union, compared to the UK.
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Speaking after a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a spokesman said: “We are ready to reflect with the member states on all possible avenues to indeed accelerate the approval of the vaccines.”
The spokesman said one possibility was “an emergency authorisation of vaccines at EU level with shared liability among member states”, suggesting work on this could start very quickly if EU governments supported the idea.
However, the spokesman also yesterday the EU’s program was on schedule.
He said: “The production and delivery of vaccines is a project that comes with a lot of obstacles.
“I think we have developed a successful vaccine strategy.”
“These companies are now in the process of producing around 1.5 billion doses, so that’s a lot of doses and we are confident that by the summer of this year we should be in a position to reach the EU target of 70 percent for vaccinations.”
The Commission’s chief spokesperson, Eric Mamer, said no EU country had asked to drop out of the joint procurement program, claiming it was easier for a small country like Israel with roughly nine million people to vaccinate its population compared than it was for the bloc with its 450 million citizens.
National emergency approvals are permitted under EU laws, but they force countries to take full responsibility if something goes wrong with a vaccine, whereas under the more rigorous marketing authorisation, pharmaceutical companies remain liable for their vaccines.
The EU Commission had previously said national emergency authorisations should not be used for COVID-19 vaccines because faster approvals could reduce regulators’ ability to check efficacy and safety data.
This could also boost vaccine hesitancy, which is already high in some countries, EU officials had said.
One EU official said the emergency procedure had so far usually been used at national level for terminally ill patients and the EU had instead chosen the lengthier conditional marketing authorisation because with vaccines “we inject healthy people” and the risk was disproportionate.
Britain has also used the emergency procedure to approve COVID-19 vaccines.
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