Mon. Apr 12th, 2021
European Union to Request Coronavirus Vaccine Bailout from Biden: Report

The European Union will reportedly call upon U.S. President Joe Biden to bail out their fledgeling coronavirus vaccination drive, which has seen the bloc seize exports of vaccines to Australia.

The European Commission plans to ask the United States to allow the export of millions of U.S.-made doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University to the bloc — somewhat ironically, given its approval of Italy seizing EU-made AstraZeneca doses bound for Australia.

The Financial Times reported that the Commission will raise the issue with American officials at an upcoming meeting to discuss transatlantic strategy in dealing with the pandemic.

The European Commission told the paper: “We trust that we can work together with the U.S. to ensure that vaccines produced or bottled in the U.S. for the fulfilment of vaccine producers’ contractual obligations with the EU will be fully honoured.”

The EU will also be seeking assurances from the Biden administration that American rules will not prohibit the export of the raw materials needed to produce the vaccine in Europe.

Following a call between President Joe Biden and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Brussels said that the U.S. and EU have a “strong interest” in working together on vaccine supply chains.

The United States currently has an order for 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, however, the jab has yet to receive regulatory approval in America.

The White House said that it plans to continue with former President Donald Trump’s executive order which mandated that vaccines must meet domestic demand before being available for export.

An official from the White House said: “The president’s first priority is to make vaccines available for every American. The U.S. and EU have committed to deepening co-operation on pandemic response, including by enhancing public health capabilities and information sharing. We know that in order to beat this pandemic and to turn a corner on economic recovery, we must work with our allies and partners.”

“The U.S. and EU are reliant on each other for key components in the manufacturing process, and co-operation will remain critical,” a second White House official remarked.

While Brexit Britain has seen one of the most successful vaccine rollouts in the world — with more Britons being vaccinated than Europeans in the whole of the EU at one point last month — the bloc’s progress has been stunted by bureaucratic roadblocks and poor management.

The EU Commission had initially tried to avoid blame by pointing the finger at the pharmaceutical company. However, it was later revealed that the relatively slow delivery was a result of the bloc agreeing a contract with AstraZeneca three months later than the United Kingdom.

The EU first began introducing export limits on coronavirus vaccines in January amid the delays at European plants.

On Thursday, Eurocrats in Brussels backed a request from the Italian government to halt the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a plant in Anagni as a result of the “continuing shortage of vaccines in the EU and in Italy and delays in supplies from AstraZeneca to the EU and Italy.”

The move from Italy was later backed up Emmanuel Macron’s France, with the French government saying it may also be forced to seize exports of vaccines, with French health minister Olivier Veran saying France could “do the same“.

AstraZeneca said that it intends to meet its target of delivering 40 million doses to the EU by the end of this month — however that number is still dramatically lower than the 100 million which were initially planned. The company went on to say that it will be forced to acquire millions of doses from outside the EU to meet second-quarter targets.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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