AstraZeneca ‘has to catch up’ says Ursula von der Leyen
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The EU and its Commission President Ms von der Leyen risk prolonging the coronavirus pandemic, Express.co.uk has been told by a World Health Organisation (WHO) collaboration centre director. Brussels last week again warned it could place a coronavirus vaccine export ban on doses travelling to the UK. It came as Thierry Breton, the EU’s market commissioner, hinted at the bloc’s plans to use European-made vaccines as bargaining power with AstraZeneca in an ongoing distribution dispute.
Despite this, the UK on Wednesday began the roll-out of its third coronavirus vaccine, the Moderna jab, in Wales, leaving the EU further behind in its so far failed efforts to begin a mass vaccination programme.
Several times has Ms von der Leyen and her EU counterparts threatened to thwart the UK’s vaccination programme following its own shaky start.
Much of the controversy surrounds the so-called Brussels bureaucracy.
As the bloc continues to pile on the pressure, Dr John McCauley said its actions will undoubtedly delay the end of the pandemic.
The Director of the WHO-backed Worldwide Influenza Centre told Express.co.uk: “Every day is a delay – people die every day.
“You stop vaccinating for a day, and it isn’t those people who die, but it’s the people in the future.
“People are going to be dying because of one day delay that they needn’t have done.
“You have to bear in mind what it is that you’re trying to do: you’re trying to save lives, you’re trying to stop people going to hospital, you’re trying to save the healthcare system, and everyday’s delay means that that just goes on longer.
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“The point is that if you stop vaccination for a day because of the possibility of one person getting a blood clot later on, you’ve got tens of people dying because they didn’t get vaccinated today – hundreds of people dying if they didn’t get vaccinated today.”
Asked why he believes the UK has soared past the EU in its vaccination programme, Dr McCauley said: “The UK put their hands in their pockets to help companies do the trials, to get everything working well.
“Whether or not the EU was constrained in sort of lack of flexibility to be able to respond in such a way is difficult to say.
“Vaccine is cheap, and actually, it doesn’t matter how expensive it is.
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“Vaccine is cheap because the alternative is that you’ve got somebody in hospital taking up one of these beds at whatever cost that is.”
Several countries in Europe last month stopped using the AstraZeneca jab after fears it caused a rare type of blood clot emerged.
While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the jab was safe after a review, regulators in Europe are due to report their findings on Wednesday afternoon.
Regulatory bodies from the UK and the WHO are also continuing to assess the data.
In Britain, seven people have died from unusual blood clots after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A total of 30 people out of 18 million had them by March 24.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency says the benefits continue to outweigh any risk.
But it is still unclear if the clots are a coincidence or genuine side effect of the vaccine.
This is the fear many citizens in Europe have despite medicine regulators approving the jabs.
Anxieties were furthered after French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this year suggested the AstraZeneca vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” in the over-65s.
He later backtracked on the comment.
On Tuesday, Australia accused the EU of blocking the shipment of 3.1 million jabs to the country.
Australian government sources told Reuters that the blocked exports are likely to impact the country’s vaccination drive which is already 83 percent behind schedule.
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