Jean-Claude Juncker says vaccine ‘major success’ for EU
Jean-Claude Juncker looked at the progress made by the EU from January 2020 and praised how far the bloc has come since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Mr Juncker, who was a key figure during the Brexit negotiations, was flippant when he was quizzed about fears of vaccine nationalism and the Brussels’ role in that. The EU is struggling to secure enough vaccines for its citizens and member states like France and Spain have come under fire for the delay in implementing the rollout.
Speaking to Euronews, Mr Juncker was asked about the vaccine programme in Europe and said: ”I have to say that one year ago in January/February 2020 nobody thought we would have this vaccine and so it is a major success for (Europe) and international scientific research progress.
“I just think that the Commission did well not knowing what, in detail, what was happening. l think it was the right choice for the European Commission to order this vaccine in the name of the 27 (members) but now we are facing problems with the production and distribution.”
The former Luxembourgish Prime Minister was then asked if saw a risk of vaccine nationalisation or a race between the EU and other countries.
He replied: “No, as far as the European Union is concerned I don’t see this risk, this nationalised vaccination monopoly.
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“Some people in other member states are forgetting, I don’t think that this will be the case.
“I’m observing that the production and the distribution of the vaccine are dealt with in a different way between the EU and Britain.”
The EU Commission has put plans in place to halt the export of vaccinations created on the continent by demanding “advanced notification” on shipments.
The move was in response to drug firms like AstraZeneca not fulfilling their contracts with the EU.
This led to Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol being triggered which would suspend the “soft border” between them and the Republic of Ireland to monitor goods.
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It was quickly U-turned and Northern Ireland remains in the Customs Union as per the Protocol agreements.
The vaccination programme in the EU has paled in comparison to other superpowers across the world.
France’s rollout had a chaotic start where the vaccine was available to everyone meaning supplies quickly ran low leaving hospitals and vaccinations centres empty.
In Spain, their rollout has suffered stops and starts as supplies also ran low.
The country with the second-highest vaccinated population in Europe is Germany with roughly 2.3 million people as the UK approached nine million vaccinations.
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The UK is aiming to vaccinate the top four priority groups by mid-February, roughly 15 million people.
While schools will not be returning back until after March 8, according to Boris Johnson, there have been calls to vaccine teachers in the February half term to speed up the process.
Over a million teachers could be vaccinated over the course of a week as schools across the country have offered to act as hubs for the jabs.
But the Government appear to be split on the move, arguing it would divert jabs from the most vulnerable but also believing if the science back it so would they.
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