BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday admitted failures on the part of the European Union in the fight against the coronavirus, admitting that the bloc had fallen behind in the vaccination campaign.
The President of the European Commission was invited to speak to MEPs after being strongly criticized on two points: the slowness of the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19, for which she coordinated the purchases, and the control of exports of vaccines from Ireland to Northern Ireland, which she almost immediately gave up in the face of scandalized reactions both in London and in Dublin and Belfast on the reestablishment of a physical border on the island.
With the delays in deliveries and the passes of arms with the laboratories, notably AstraZeneca, Ursula von der Leyen said that 26 million doses of vaccines had now been distributed among the 27 countries of the EU and that 70% of European adults should have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.
“And yet it is a fact that today we are not where we would like to be in the fight against the coronavirus,” she told the European Parliament.
“We were late with the approval (of the vaccines). We were too optimistic about mass production. And maybe we also had too much certainty that the orders would indeed be delivered on time.” , she added.
The President of the Commission also admitted that a series of errors had led to the decision to control vaccine exports.
“I deeply regret it,” she said, promising that the EU executive would do everything possible to preserve the peace in Northern Ireland.
Ursula von der Leyen nevertheless defended the centralization of vaccine orders by the Commission, which in her opinion thus avoided an unfair situation in which a few large countries could have taken advantage of their power to take the available doses.
She also ruled that the EU could not afford to rush its vaccine validation procedures, even if it meant losing three or four weeks in other countries.
The EU will set up a new network of clinical trials to provide data faster to regulatory authorities and a working group to speed up vaccine production, the Commission President announced.
(Philip Blenkinsop; French version Bertrand Boucey, edited by Blandine Hénault)
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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