BBC details how EU AstraZeneca vaccine row unfolded
Ms Merkel called a vaccine summit following the failure of the EU to purchase, then subsequently roll out, the essential drugs to member states. During a meeting with officials such as EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder, and Health Minister, Jens Spahn, the Chancellor allegedly criticised the process. Despite often being the level-headed leader of the strongest economy in the EU, Ms Merkel has become disillusioned by the bloc’s floundering attempt to procure vaccines.
Such was her anger at the whole fiasco, Ms Merkel called an emergency vaccine summit this week following Ursula von der Leyen’s threats to invoke Article 16 of the trade agreement last week.
One participant of the summit told German publication, Bild: “Merkel is making somewhat hateful comments.”
Another said: “It’s a continuous blah blah, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
That same participant labelled the whole meeting as an “absurd drama” after the officials spent hours without coming to any conclusion nor revealing any new information.
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Not only did Ms Merkel allegedly express her dissatisfaction with the vaccine programme but Mr Soder, who is the leader Christian Social Union and part of the faction with Ms Merkel’s party, also issued an incredible attack against the two EU officials present.
He said: “I find it difficult to describe the things we have heard from the EU as positive and sufficient.”
Mr Soder also claimed the manufactures had made promises rather than guarantees over the vaccine rollout.
During the meeting, Ms Merkel allegedly ruled out lifting any restrictions and stated the main priority was to vaccinate the entire population by the summer.
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After witnessing the variants hit the UK, Ms Merkel has maintained a cautious approach to vaccinations and therefore, lifting any measures.
She said: “If a mutant occurs that the vaccine does not work on, we will have to start all over again.
“We may have to vaccinate for many years to come.
“Similar to the flu vaccine, where you inoculate against the new mutation of the virus every time.
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“If this virus continues to change, we will have another problem.”
Germany had been in talks over coronavirus vaccines before the EU Commission step in to advise that it take over negotiations on behalf of the 27 member states.
Due to this, the EU did not agree a deal with BioNtech and Pfizer until November 11, 2020.
Although the bloc secured 300 million doses, this was over three months after the UK agreed its own deal with the pharmaceutical giants.
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The UK also signed a deal with AstraZeneca in July, a full month prior to the EU’s own agreement – both drugs were also approved at earlier dates by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
What the delay in the respective deals means is that the EU has lagged behind the UK’s own rollout.
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Due to this, as of January 31, the UK has vaccinated 14.42 people per 100 according to Our World in Data.
In contrast, Germany and France are recording 2.95 and 2.35 respectively.