EU Chief: Bloc Was Late, Over-Confident on Vaccine Rollout

February 10, 2021by Raf Casert, Associated Press
EU Chief: Bloc Was Late, Over-Confident on Vaccine Rollout
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a debate on the united EU approach to COVID-19 vaccinations at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Johanna Geron, Pool via AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) — As the European Union surpassed 500,000 people lost to the virus, the EU Commission chief said Wednesday that the bloc’s much-criticized vaccine rollout could be partly blamed on the EU being over-optimistic, over-confident and plainly “late.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen defended the EU’s overall approach of trying to beat the pandemic with a unified vaccine plan for its 27 nations, even if she admitted mistakes in the strategy to quickly obtain sufficient vaccines for its 447 million citizens.

“We are still not where we want to be. We were late to authorize. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production and perhaps we were too confident that, what we ordered, would actually be delivered on time,” von der Leyen told EU plenary.

Despite weeks of stinging criticism as the EU’s vaccine campaign failed to gain momentum compared to the Britain, Israel and the United States, the three main parties in the legislature stuck with von der Leyen’s approach of moving forward with all member states together.

“The key decisions were right,” said Manfred Weber, the leader of the Christian Democrat European People’s Party.

The Socialists and Democrats party leader Iratxe Garcia said “Fiasco, catastrophe, disaster: they ring very true to our citizens,” but added her party will stick with von der Leyen on the bloc moving together. “Criticism is necessary but with a constructive spirit.”

Von der Leyen’s assessment came as the bloc’s death toll passed a landmark of 500,000, a stunning statistic in less than a year that fundamentally challenges the bloc’s vaunted welfare standards and health care capabilities.

It came as the bloc was fighting off the remnants of a second surge of COVID-19 that has kept communities from Portugal to Finland under all kinds of lockdown, curfews and restrictions as authorities race to vaccinate as many people as possible.

The last official weekly figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are only expected on Thursday but Johns Hopkins University produced a daily tally showing how the mark stood at 500,809 on Wednesday.

In comparison, the United States, with a population of 330 million, leads the world per nation with more than 468,000 deaths.

Von der Leyen stuck with her promise to have 70% of the EU’s adult population vaccinated by the end of summer and blamed big pharmaceutical companies for not keeping vaccine production up with scientific advances.

“Indeed, industry has to match the groundbreaking pace of science,” von der Leyen said. “We fully understand that difficulties will arise in the mass production of vaccines. But Europe has invested billions of euros in capacities in advance, and we urged the member states to plan the vaccine rollout. So now we all need predictability.”



A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

International

August 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Washington Reacts to ‘Brazen,’ ‘Unacceptable’ Russian Sentence for Brittney Griner

WASHINGTON — Brittney Griner, the American WNBA player who was tried in Russian court for drug smuggling after bringing cannabis... Read More

WASHINGTON — Brittney Griner, the American WNBA player who was tried in Russian court for drug smuggling after bringing cannabis oil into the country, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday, inspiring sharp rebukes in the nation’s capital. “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received... Read More

US House Speaker Pelosi Arrives in Taiwan, Defying Beijing

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American official in... Read More

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China, which quickly announced that it would conduct military maneuvers in retaliation for her presence. Pelosi arrived... Read More

Biden: Killing of al-Qaida Leader is Long-Sought 'Justice'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul,... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, an operation he said delivered justice and hopefully “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the... Read More

August 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Global Demand for Coal Set to Return to All-Time High

PARIS — Despite slowing economic growth and market turbulence, the global demand for coal continues to rise and could, by... Read More

PARIS — Despite slowing economic growth and market turbulence, the global demand for coal continues to rise and could, by the end of this year, match the record high the sector last saw a decade ago, the International Energy Agency says in a new report. Based... Read More

China Rejects Report it Tried to Obtain Federal Reserve Data

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Wednesday rejected as a “political lie” a report by The Wall Street Journal that... Read More

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Wednesday rejected as a “political lie” a report by The Wall Street Journal that Beijing tried to recruit informants in the Federal Reserve system to obtain U.S. economic data. The report, citing an investigation by a Senate panel, adds to... Read More

Biden Lands in Saudi Arabia to Meet King, Crown Prince

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Joe Biden touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday, working to bridge a rift... Read More

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Joe Biden touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday, working to bridge a rift between the United States and the kingdom at a moment when concerns about human rights abuses have been eclipsed by other challenges, including rising gas prices and Iranian aggression in the Middle... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top