EU: Ursula von der Leyen is ‘under pressure’ says Adler
In a bitter concession, the Commission President said manufacturing of the jabs will continue to be uneven and slow in the coming months. She said: “A start of vaccination does not mean a seamless flow of vaccine doses coming from the industry.
“This is a bitter learning part, and this we certainly have underestimated.
“Had I known what difficulties we have now with the Schwankungen, with the fluctuations in the beginning period, yes, we should have warned that this goes not seamless and smooth and in a straight upward movement at the very beginning.”
Mrs von der Leyen said Brussels now expects to receive about 100 million vaccine doses in the first three months of this year, with deliveries increasing month by month.
She said: “It shows the direction of the delivery is the right one.
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“It’s going up but we have now learned that there will always be ups and downs.”
Speaking of the cut in production by BioTech/Pfizer, Mrs von der Leyen said: “They had a dip.
“Why that? Because they expanded their production to a new site that took away for a week or two and a certain amount of doses reduced — the delivery of doses.
“But now they are catching up, I think until the end of the month, and then they will be able, because of the new sites, to scale-up.
“And this will certainly happen over and over again.
“We also always have to be prepared to have shortages of raw materials or components in our worldwide supply chains.
“This should not be underestimated.”
The Commission President also defended the EU’s decision not to approve vaccines on an emergency basis like Britain has done.
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She said: “With a new vaccine, you inject a biologically active substance in a healthy person.
“So that’s an enormous responsibility.”
She went on to compare the UK to a “speedboat”, whilst the EU would look more like a “tanker”.
She added: “But this is the strength of the EU.”
Later in the interview, she added: “If we conclude a contract, we need another five days for the member states to say, ‘yes’ — and these are five days, five working days.
“So obviously, of course, a decision taken by 27 lasts longer than if you just go by yourself, but I am deeply convinced that the European approach is the right one.”
EU governments have been under fire over a slow start to vaccinations in the bloc, with critics pointing to progress made in Britain, Israel and the United States as evidence of a planning failure in Brussels and elsewhere.
To reach a goal of 70 percent immunity in adults by the summer, the EU would need a sixfold increase in the rate of vaccinations, according to the study by insurance group Allianz and credit insurer Euler Hermes.
At the current pace, herd immunity would not be achieved before 2022, the study said, adding that the longer it takes to vaccinate Europe’s population, the longer the economy will be hampered by restrictions and lockdowns.
“One euro that is spent on speeding up vaccinations (though infrastructure, increased vaccine production) could avert four times as many euros in losses,” it said.
Mrs von der Leyen on Tuesday said that the EU had lagged rivals by three to four weeks because of a more rigorous approvals process.
Supply problems should ease in the second quarter of 2021, but increasing production remained a challenge, she said.
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