Health

EU leaders in call to boost bloc’s vaccine production

Brussels, Feb 24 (efe-epa).- Five European leaders on Wednesday sent an open letter to the European Council president urging more support for Covid-19 vaccine production in the bloc after the initial rollout was hampered by delivery shortages and delays.

In the letter to Charles Michel ahead of an EU Council meeting, the prime ministers of Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania and Poland said Europe’s “timely access” to sufficient Covid-19 jabs “remains an unsolved challenge.”

“In spite of the unprecedented speedy development of new high-quality vaccines, production difficulties are ongoing and lead to major delays,” the open letter read.

“We need to provide the right support to Europe-based producers in case unexpected problems emerge during the production process.”

The EU signed pre-orders for106 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the first quarter of the year but has so far received less than half of that amid order shortfalls from companies like AstraZeneca, which produces one of the three jabs that currently have EU approval alongside Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

According to local media, Germany’s health minister on Wednesday said the country was set to see a more than 50% shortfall in its anticipated delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines in the second quarter, down from 34 million to 16 million.

Unlike the United Kingdom or Israel, who have made much more progress in their respective schemes, the EU has chosen for a collective approach to procurement and distribution, which critics blame for the slow pace of the EU’s rollout. EFE-EPA

lpc/jt

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