French MEP slams ‘laughing stock’ EU over vaccine rollout
Britain has received widespread acclaim for the rollout of its coronavirus vaccination programme and the speed at which it is administering jabs to its 67 million citizens. The UK has so far administered more than 26 million vaccine doses, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson aiming for every citizen to receive their first jab over the next few months in time for the busy summer period. But in contrast, the European Union has come under attack for its sluggish rollout of jabs and has been embroiled in fierce rows with vaccine makers, including AstraZeneca, over production issues.
As of March 15, the EU administered 50.8 million vaccine doses to its citizens – just over a tenth of the bloc’s total population – according to the latest figures from Our World in Data.
This is counted as a single dose, and may not equal the total number of people vaccinated, depending on the specific dose regime (e.g. people receive multiple doses).
The EU’s vaccine rollout has suffered another hammer blow, with more than a dozen member states refusing to administer the vaccine from AstraZeneca, citing side effects on patients, such as blood clots.
Charles-Henri Gallois, president of political campaign group Generation Frexit in France, has launched a scathing attack against the EU, claiming if member states were independent, they would not find themselves engulfed in the vaccine chaos and lagging so far behind the UK.
EU news: Brussels has been shamed by the success of the UK’s rollout of vaccine jabs
EU news: Brussels has been criticised for its sluggish vaccine rollout
He said: “The reality is that if France and other EU member countries are so far behind, it’s precisely because the EU has been in charge of the matter. French head of Moderna laboratories, Stéphane Bancel, explained: ‘We began very actively exchanging with France on this as far back as spring.
‘The scientific, technical and commercial discussions progressed rapidly. Then the EU asked its members to adopt a collective approach in order to avoid a repetition of the mask fiasco, so France transferred responsibility to the European Commission.
‘From June to August, nothing happened. Discussions resumed at the end of summer with the contract signed at the end of November.
‘To give you an idea, between the first scientific and medical meetings and the signing of the contract this summer, two weeks went by.’
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“The EU, through its slow administrative procedures complicated by the need to consult amongst all 27 members – which would not have been the case if we had acted alone – ended up accumulating a three-month delay compared to independent countries.
“This was confirmed by the French head of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, who said ‘the British agreement was concluded in June, three months before the European agreement.
“‘London stipulated that vaccines coming from the British supply chain would go first to the United Kingdom.’
“Moreover, the UK had the foresight to secure its supply chain, leading to a considerable advance and no shortage of supplies, but the EU found nothing better to do than attempt to block vaccine exports to the UK.
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“The EU can clearly see how vaccines show Brexit in a positive light which could give ideas to other countries and encourage them to follow the British example.”
He added: “We can see the EU used an imperial strategy which consisted in punishing the member which had taken back its liberty.
“The vaccine fiasco is probably the most obvious and resounding example of EU incompetence but in reality the EU and its ideology have proven to be useless and even harmful not just throughout the COVID-19 crisis but also in many other areas.”
Mr Gallois further put the boot into Brussels, going as far to say it has shown itself to be the “virus and not the vaccine”.
He added the UK’s new-found independence from the bloc has enabled it to be much more efficient with its vaccine rollout, urging French people to “take back control by concluding a referendum on EU membership”.
The Frexit campaigner concluded: “In this COVID-19 crisis, the EU has shown itself to indeed be the virus and not the vaccine.
“The United Kingdom on the other hand will show that a free and independent country, able to defend its interests, is infinitely more efficient.
“The vaccine episode bears this out as will its aftermath. The United Kingdom has taken back control.
“Don’t be mistaken, the EU and its ideology are an impediment and in no way a solution.
“French people must also take back control by conducting a referendum on EU membership , as the British did.
“Democracy demands this. Let’s take back control!”