The EU has directly blamed AstraZeneca for its relatively slow launch of the Covid vaccine after the 27-state bloc failed to achieve its goal of vaccinating 80% of older people by the end of March.
Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner responsible for the supply and distribution of vaccines, suggested that the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company had been entirely guilty of a difficult and widely criticized start.
“If we had received 100% of the AstraZeneca vaccines that were contracted to us, the European Union would today be at the same level as Great Britain in terms of vaccines,” he told Le Parisien. “So I can say that the turbulence we have experienced is solely due to AstraZeneca not complying.
“In the first quarter, AstraZeneca delivered only a quarter of the doses we asked for, while the British received them all, despite the fact that our contract was signed before them, in August 2020.”
AstraZeneca, which provides non-profit injections, was only able to deliver 30 million of the 120 million doses expected by the EU in the first quarter of this year, largely due to poor performance at its plant in Belgium.
Contrary to Breton’s comments, UK officials said the company had also failed to meet its commitments to the British government, with only a third of the doses due delivered. The UK and the commission are in difficult negotiations over the fate of the doses produced at an AstraZeneca plant in the Netherlands.
Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), dated April 4, suggested that the average proportion of people aged 80 and over in the EU who had received a first puncture was 60%, while 36.5% had been fully vaccinated among the 25 member states that had reported on their performance.
In January, the commission had set a vaccination target for the bloc’s member states that said that by the end of March 2021 at least 80% of people over the age of 80, and the same proportion of health and medical professionals. social care in all member states, they should be vaccinated.
According to an ECDC report on March 26, the average vaccination rate in the EU was also just 47.5% for healthcare workers, with returns ranging from 13% to 99.4%. “Additional efforts are needed to achieve the target of 80% vaccine uptake in these priority groups by March 2021,” the ECDC report concluded.
Meanwhile, in Great Britain, the percentage of vaccinated people aged 80 and over was 99.4% in England, 98.3% in Wales and 98.6% in Scotland in the week ending March 20 , according to the Office for National Statistics. The percentage of vaccinated people aged 70 and over in Northern Ireland was 96.5%.
Of people aged 80 and over who had received a first shot in England, 42.9% had received a second dose as of March 28. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend that 50% of those over 80 across the UK had had a second stroke.
However, concerns remain in the government that a recent spike in infection on the continent could lead to a third wave of the pandemic in the UK just as the economy is reopening.
In Germany, where 12.7% of adults have received a first blow and 5.5% a second, Armin Laschet, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, has proposed a nationwide “bridge blockade” in light of of a worrying increase in Covid cases.
Laschet, a potential heir to Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, has earned praise and contempt for her plan, a hard-hitting blockade, which she said should last two to three weeks to “save” time before the vaccines start to have an impact.
But Breton raised hope in a series of interviews over the weekend, insisting that he believed a second goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the entire adult population of the EU could be achieved by the end of August.
Vaccination rates have increased in recent weeks in a large number of member states, including France, and supply will increase exponentially in the next quarter, with 300 million doses expected from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, compared with 100 million. in the first trimester.
“I announced the symbolic date of July 14. I sincerely believe that it can be achieved,” Breton said on a visit to a vaccine plant in Chenôve, near Dijon, on Sunday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism