AstraZeneca ‘has to catch up’ says Ursula von der Leyen
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The EU chief said the club of nations “takes pride” in its performance on the vaccine front despite its rollout across member states being sluggish and patently uncertain. She tweeted a snap of herself carefully placing an EU flag sticker on a box of coronavirus shots at a Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium.
After the European Commission president praised the 27-member bloc for exporting millions of doses to dozens of countries, one European citizen shot back: “Don’t forget to vaccinate us!”
Britons were equally critical of Ms von der Leyen’s attempt to paint the EU’s vaccine drive in a positive light.
Another said: “This would be a good thing if the EU had enough doses for ourselves. We’re exporting meanwhile our people are dying.”
And yet a third Twitter user said the “UK Government is doing a much better job than the EU” when it comes to inoculating populations.
Ms von der Leyen said: “Europe is producing vaccines for Europeans and the world.
“We have exported 155 million doses to 87 countries since December.
“We take pride in this and invite others to join us. We’ll only be safe when everyone is safe.”
During her visit to the Pfizer manufacturing site in Belgium, the EU chief said she expects to seal the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal with the drugmaker over the coming days.
She said the agreement would secure up to 1.8 billion doses for the next few years as a debate rages over unfair access to shots for the world’s poorest people.
Her tweet was met with widespread scepticism on social media and many Europeans refused to buy into her tactics to divert attention away from the EU’s vaccine fiasco.
The bloc’s rollout has been hit by continuous delays and supply problems in the past few months while the UK charges forward with its programme.
One person hit out at the EU chief for taking credit for Europe’s vaccine exports to poorer nations.
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They said: “Europe? The EU is not Europe.”
Another said the EU flag she strategically stuck onto a box of jabs was “a sign of the absolute failure of a failed repository for its own citizens”.
They added that the EU had wanted “everything for the world, nothing for its own citizens” when it comes to coronavirus jabs.
They said: “Nobody needs such a Europe, we need a Europe of free people.”
The upcoming agreement between Pfizer and the bloc is to include 900 million optional doses and would be enough to inoculate the 450 million EU population for two years.
The move comes as the Commission looks to sever ties with AstraZeneca after the drugmaker slashed its delivery targets due to production problems.
On Friday it was moving closer to take legal action against the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.
An EU official said the supply deal with Pfizer was agreed in principle but that both sides needed a few days to iron out final terms.
Speaking at a news conference alongside Pfizer boss Albert Bourla, Ms von der Leyen said: “We will conclude in the next days. It will secure the doses necessary to give booster shots to increase immunity.”
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