E.U. Exports Tens of millions of Vaccine Doses Regardless of Provide Crunch at Dwelling
BRUSSELS – The European Union exported 25 million doses of vaccines made on its territory to 31 countries around the world last month. Britain and Canada have been the main targets, just as the bloc drastically cut its own supply of drug companies, slowing vaccination efforts and fueling a political crisis at home.
The bloc, home to 450 million people in 27 nations, was criticized last week when Italy deployed an export control mechanism to block a small shipment of vaccines to Australia. The move has been criticized as protectionist and is in sharp contrast to the European Union’s mantra about free markets and global solidarity in the face of the pandemic.
The problem of vaccine production and exports has also led to a bitter dispute between the European Union and the UK, a recently deceased member, on charges that the bloc wanted to withdraw vaccine doses from the country, in part because the UK is doing so much better with its own Rollout.
Tensions culminated in a diplomatic spit on Wednesday after a senior EU official accused the United States and Britain of imposing an “outright ban on exports” – an accusation the UK government vigorously denied.
In practice, whether banned or not, the UK does not export vaccines that are approved for home use and the country has announced that it will be ready to overdoses to neighboring Ireland, but only after the home vaccination effort has been completed were.
The United States has also held onto cans, in part through a war mechanism known as the Defense Production Act, which gives the federal government greater control over industrial production. President Biden last week promised that all adults in America will be offered at least one dose of vaccine by May.
However, information published for the first time, recorded in detailed internal documents of the New York Times, shows that the European Union is far from being protectionist, in fact it is a powerhouse that exports vaccines.
Of the 25 million doses of vaccine manufactured in facilities in the EU and exported between February 1st (when the export mechanism came into effect) and March 1st, more than eight million doses went to the UK.
And while the United States is keeping the doses to itself, the EU shipped 651,000 vaccines to the United States last month, making vaccines that immunized its neighbors: the second largest recipient of EU-made vaccines was Canada, most recently more than three Million doses received month while Mexico was the fourth largest and received nearly 2.5 million vaccine doses produced in the block.
The disclosure of this data has been heatedly debated in the power corridors of the European Commission, the EU executive that is at the heart of vaccine sourcing and has suffered the biggest political blow for its overwhelming adoption.
On the one hand, several senior EU officials said exposing the immense export efforts that are vaccinating countries around the world and helping restart the global economy would help restore Europe’s standing. On the other hand, it would outrage European citizens who wait for their shots as Americans, British, Israelis and others rush past them to resume public life, health and economic activity.
Currently, nearly 58 percent of Israelis have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. According to ourWorldInData, it’s 33 percent for people in the UK, 18 percent for the US, and 6.5 percent for people in the European Union.
The bloc had trailed the US and UK for weeks in the past year in signing deals with pharmaceutical companies, but secured a broad portfolio of vaccines on favorable terms on behalf of its members. This gave them relatively quick access to vaccinations that most would not have dreamed of if they had acted on their own.
But within weeks of launching in late December, the bloc suffered from supply shocks. First, Pfizer said it would cut supplies to improve its facilities. Then AstraZeneca informed the block that it would only deliver 31 million of the promised 80 million cans in the first quarter of this year.
Moderna, whose vaccine was also approved for the block, also had minor supply issues. Many EU countries have also done a poor job of getting the vaccines they have to their citizens due to poor organization and logistics.
The rollout in the bloc has been so bad that member states have been tempted by black market offers for extra doses, and some are resorting to unapproved vaccines, including Russia’s Sputnik V, which is still being tested for use in the bloc.
Hopes that these issues could be alleviated in the second quarter of this year depended largely on the recovery in supply from AstraZeneca and a solid delivery schedule from Johnson & Johnson, whose Covid-19 vaccine is due to be approved by the EU regulator on Thursday .
However, there are concerns that Johnson & Johnson may cut supplies to the bloc as well, leading the bloc to apply for a 10 million can loan from the United States government. Officials in the United States and the European Union said the application was denied.
Noah Weiland contributed to reporting from Washington.