European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen is scrambling to resolve the vaccine delay chaos that has wreaked havoc across the bloc. Earlier today, AstraZeneca announced that it will cut deliveries of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to the EU by 60 percent in the first quarter of the year. This follows similar cut backs from Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, prompting alarm in Brussels.
Speaking to France24, Paul Taylor from Politico warned that European citizens are becoming “desperate” as infection rates rise.
He explained: “There is a lot of pressure in Germany to say, we have the money, let’s go out and buy more for ourselves. That hasn’t happened just yet.
“Europe has put itself on the frontline of this and if it doesn’t work there will be a backlash against the EU.”
Political expert Erin Zaleski from the Daily Beast similarly predicted that EU states may look elsewhere to fill a vaccine gap.
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This comes after Hungary bypassed the EU and reached a deal with Russia to buy up large quantities of the Sputnik V vaccine, even though it has not received EU approval.
Ms Zaleski explained: “There can’t have been a worse time for something like this to happen.
“Hungary went with the Russian vaccine instead. If the EU fails to deliver, we many see more countries looking to Russia and China to fill the gap, so that is a concern as well.”
Dave Clark, from the AFP, added: “Other countries in Europe, like Austria are becoming frustrated that AstraZeneca has not yet been authorised within Europe.
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, spoke out about the EU’s “deep dissatisfaction with this”.
Italy and Poland have threatened to take legal action in response to the reduction in vaccines.
Responding to the delays, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said the EU had to take some responsibility because of its slow approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which may come at the end of next week.
European Council President Charles Michel, who led a call of EU leaders this week, said Thursday that officials were considering all ideas to try and stop future vaccine delays.