From April, the EU will receive significantly more vaccine doses than before. This is what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promises in an interview with the daily newspaper »Der Standard«.
In January and February the manufacturers delivered 20 and 30 million vaccine doses, respectively, said von der Leyen, and in March 50 million doses can be assumed: “According to the manufacturer’s plans, the quantities could double again from April onwards. That would be an average of around 100 million cans per month in the second quarter, a total of 300 million by the end of June. “
Von der Leyen also warns against hasty optimism: “We are very worried about the virus variants,” she says. At any time, “a mutation that is resistant to the vaccines we have today” could appear somewhere.
Together with the member states, they are therefore working flat out to increase production output, further develop vaccines and accelerate their approval. Production capacities must be kept in stock for future pandemics.
EU lags well behind Great Britain and the USA
The EU is currently vaccinating much more slowly than the USA, Great Britain, Israel or Chile. US President Joe Biden has promised to have enough vaccine available for all Americans by the end of May.
Von der Leyen openly admits misjudgments in the corona crisis. It is true that “the right vaccines were used”. But “we all underestimated that ramping up stable mass production is fraught with considerable risks.”
At the same time, she emphasized how important it was to go shopping together. “I cannot imagine what it would be like in Europe today if a few large states perhaps had vaccines now and most of the smaller member states had come away empty-handed.” That would have “torn Europe apart and destroyed the internal market.”
With the increase in vaccination deliveries in the EU, at least the goal of vaccinating two thirds of adult EU citizens once again by the end of summer would become more realistic. The German government has promised to offer vaccinations to all adults by the end of September.
Recently, Italy stopped shipping 250,700 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia. The EU’s export controls are particularly aimed at manufacturers who fail to meet their delivery obligations. AstraZeneca is currently delivering less vaccine to the EU than originally planned. In the first quarter, the group can only deliver 40 million instead of 90 million vaccine doses. The reason is production bottlenecks in a Belgian plant, it is said.
AstraZeneca deliveries also depend on American plants
Deliveries in the second quarter depend, among other things, on a plant in the US – and the US government has not yet approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, but has imposed an export ban. That’s why people in Brussels have been talking excitedly with Washington over the past few days.
“The Commission trusts that we can work with the US to ensure that vaccine that is manufactured or bottled in the US can be fully used to fulfill the contractual obligations of vaccine manufacturers to the EU,” said a spokeswoman for the EU Commission.