Discussion about EU vaccination strategy – politics

Archive note: International Corona blog

The first plane to Mallorca took off in Hamburg on Sunday morning after the Balearic island is no longer a corona risk area. 153 passengers got on the plane with the flight number “EW 7588” to Palma de Mallorca on Sunday morning, as a spokeswoman for the airline Eurowings reported. This meant that the plane was fully booked.

In general, the spokeswoman said the demand for Mallorca flights was very high. Four other connections across Germany were scheduled for Sunday – all of them fully booked. Larger machines than originally planned were used at two locations, the spokeswoman added.

Due to the great demand, Eurowings has launched 300 additional connections for Easter. According to the regulations of the Balearic Government, only passengers with a negative PCR test are allowed on board. On Friday, the Robert Koch Institute stated that Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands and other areas of Spain were no longer risk areas.

Netherlands: riots during corona protests

Shortly before the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, a protest against the Corona measures in The Hague led to riots. About 20 people had been arrested, said the Dutch police on Sunday evening. The demonstration had previously been ended by the police because participants did not adhere to the corona rules. Water cannons were also used.

The Dutch elect a new parliament from Monday. For the first time, the parliamentary elections will take place over three days. The reason is the corona pandemic.

Several thousand people protested against the Corona measures in a central square in The Hague in the afternoon. The action was only allowed for 200 people. Protesters refused to obey police orders and refused to leave the square. The police then evacuated the place.

EU commission vice admits omissions in vaccine orders

EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has admitted that the European Union has failed in terms of vaccination strategy. “It is true that mistakes were made in ordering the vaccines both in Brussels and in the Member States,” Timmermans told the Daily mirror on Sunday. “I am ready to take stock at the end of the pandemic. Then we can see what we did wrong and what we did right.”

In the current situation, however, the first thing to do is to “ensure that all of Europe gets vaccine,” Timmermans said. A European approach was “also in the interests of the richer states” like Germany, added the deputy of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with a view to the common vaccine order by the EU.

The EU Commission has ordered a total of at least 1.4 billion doses of the four corona vaccines approved in the EU – actually more than enough for the around 450 million Europeans. However, the EU Commission has long been criticized, among other things because its hesitant action and strategic errors when ordering vaccines have been accused. The distribution of vaccine doses among the Member States is also felt to be unfair in some EU capitals.

EPP parliamentary group leader Weber calls for Astra Zeneca to stop exports

After the announcement of another drastic cut in vaccine deliveries from Astra Zeneca to the EU, EPP parliamentary group leader Manfred Weber (CSU) has called for consequences. “It creates the impression that other countries are preferred over the EU,” said Weber World on sunday. As long as Astra Zeneca does not fulfill its promises, “the EU should impose a general ban on exports of vaccine doses produced by the company in the EU”.

The British-Swedish manufacturer Astra Zeneca again announced massive delivery cuts on Friday. Instead of the last targeted 220 million cans, only 100 million should go to the EU states by the middle of the year. The group justified this with export restrictions, among other things, without giving details.

The EU had accused both the USA and Great Britain of not exporting any vaccine produced in the countries, unlike itself. A dispute has flared up again with the British government in recent days, as London had rejected it.

Austria does not want any further relaxation of corona measures

Austria is waiting even further to relax the corona measures. In talks between the government and the federal states on Monday, contrary to earlier announcements, no decisions on the opening of restaurants or events are to be expected, the Chancellery said on Saturday. The government wants to continue to monitor the situation.

Nevertheless, opening steps will be implemented on Monday. Children and young people across the country are again allowed to participate in small groups in sports and organized leisure activities. In the western federal state of Vorarlberg, where the incidence is below 70, catering and events with access tests are also made possible.

Austria is thus pursuing a regionally differentiated strategy. From some areas with a very high number of infections, it is only possible to leave the country with a negative corona test. These include Wiener Neustadt, an important regional center south of Vienna. On Saturday, the police began random checks on the exit routes from Wiener Neustadt.

The number of new infections every day in Austria has been increasing for around two weeks and was most recently 3023. The seven-day incidence on Saturday was almost 205.

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Italy spends Easter in lockdown

In Italy, strict lockdown rules should apply over the Easter holidays. This was announced by the government of the country. From April 3rd to 5th, the rules of the so-called red zone apply. Bars and restaurants are then only allowed to sell take-away orders. People are only allowed to move within their region. According to the government of ex-ECB boss Mario Draghi, visits are only allowed once a day and a maximum of two to another household.

From Monday, the weekly incidence value for the regions is also decisive. If it exceeds the limit of 250 corona cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the rules of the red zone automatically apply to a region – regardless of other measured values ​​such as the reproductive value (R value). The rules should initially be valid until April 6th.

The government of the country with around 60 million inhabitants wants to counteract the impending third wave of infections with tightened measures. For this reason, many Italians will have to forego travel over Easter. The reopening of the cinemas and theaters could also be on the brink, which is planned for March 27 in the current Corona decree, as the media reported.

WHO also gives the green light for Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has given Johnson & Johnson’s corona vaccine emergency approval. The US manufacturer’s product can thus be used for the international Covax program to supply poorer countries, the UN agency announced in Geneva on Friday. The WHO had previously listed the vaccines from Biontech and Astra Zeneca.

During the discussions about the Astra-Zeneca substance, WHO experts emphasized that no causal connection between the occurrence of blood clots and the vaccinations has been established so far. But you should follow research on the subject closely.

Every new, safe and effective tool against Covid-19 is a further step to bring the pandemic under control, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But the hopes for these tools cannot be fulfilled unless they are available to all people in all countries,” he added. Therefore, governments and pharmaceutical companies would now have to expand production.

The Johnson & Johnson product was approved by the EU Commission on Thursday on the recommendation of the EMA. Since the vaccine is inoculated with only one dose and needs less cold storage than other products, it is particularly suitable for developing countries. Around 500 million cans have been secured for the Covax program.

The EU Commission has already ordered Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for 200 million people. Germany would receive 36.7 million of this. Deliveries to the EU are scheduled to begin in April and 55 million cans are to be distributed by the end of June. However, there are fears that the company may not be able to deliver on time because of its complicated supply chains. However, the manufacturer has assured that it will adhere to the agreements.

Novavax vaccine is 96 percent effective according to a study

The US pharmaceutical company Novavax announces that its vaccine is 96 percent effective against the original corona virus and 86 percent against the British variant. According to the company, the figures were collected within a study that Novavax was carrying out in the UK. This means that the company has come one step closer to the approval of the vaccine.

The vaccine could be approved for use in the US as early as May if US authorities found the data from the UK to be sufficient, the company said.

Austria criticizes vaccine distribution in EU – references to “bazaar”

The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sharply criticizes the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus in the European Union. The distribution of the drugs to the EU member states is unjust, contrary to the declared objective of fair participation, he said on Friday. Since there are noticeable differences in vaccination progress between the member states, he compared the national delivery dates with other heads of government. The result was: “The deliveries are not made according to the population key.”

“When I shared this information with some heads of state and government yesterday, many could not believe their eyes and ears,” said Kurz. “These delivery schedules clearly contradict the political goal of the European Union, namely that all member states should receive their share of vaccination doses per capita.” This was decided at the EU summit in January.

However, apparently at the same time and in clear contradiction to this, other agreements with pharmaceutical companies had been made in a steering committee of health officials. “The contracts of this body are secret and I therefore do not know them myself,” said Kurz. “But there are indications that there should have been a so-called bazaar where additional agreements between member states and pharmaceutical companies have been made.”

Pfizer and Biontech want to produce more cans than planned

Pfizer and Biontech want to produce up to 20 percent more doses of their jointly developed corona vaccine in 2021 than originally planned. Instead of the targeted two billion doses, it should now be 2.3 to 2.4 billion, says Pfizer boss Albert Bourla. Worldwide, up to 20 percent more cans could be produced than assumed. Bourla is even predicting three billion cans for 2022.

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