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  • Hello and welcome to BBC World News.

  • EU leaders are meeting virtually now to discuss their covid response as new variants spread across the continent in cases spiral.

  • One of the topics is how to speed up the vaccine rollout and get access to more supplies.

  • The meeting is of course happening virtually with the leaders all joining by video link from their own countries.

  • Measures to restrict vaccine exports are still on the table even after a joint statement with Britain later on Wednesday saying both sides will work together to try to resolve the dispute over access, Richard Galpin reports here in this vaccine center in Cologne, as in other parts of the European Union, there's only a handful of people.

  • One key reason for that is a shortage of vaccine supplies and this is the EU faces a third wave of coronavirus, which is sweeping through member states.

  • Frustrated EU officials believe the U.

  • K has had an unfair advantage with the contracts for the AstraZeneca vaccine and now threatening a ban of exports of the vaccine to the U.

  • K.

  • I don't think that we want to use it.

  • I am optimistic that the joint agreement between the U.

  • N U K as well as the summit today will help to solve the problem without entering a vaccine war.

  • But again the U has been the biggest exporter.

  • But London and Brussels are now trying to cool tensions with a statement saying they're working on specific steps they can take to create a win win situation and expand vaccine supplies for all their citizens.

  • I don't want to see blockades of vaccines or of medicines.

  • I don't think that's the way forward, either for us or for any of our friends.

  • The EU meeting this afternoon is focusing on ways to increase the vaccine supply and improve the distribution across the 27 countries.

  • I think it should be made perfectly clear that the EU does not have a problem with the UK.

  • The EU has a problem with AstraZeneca because AstraZeneca is not fulfilling their promises, their contractual obligations.

  • It's vital in this pandemic that all countries work together to tackle the virus.

  • Vaccine nationalism could prove very damaging.

  • You cannot wrap a flag around a vaccine in this modern world.

  • It just doesn't work that way.

  • These are integrated supply chains and any attempt to impose any barriers whatsoever will disadvantage everybody involved at today's meeting, The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will also highlight the need for more vaccines to be made in the EU itself to tackle the supply problems.

  • Richard Galpin BBC News Mrs Merkel briefed parliament ahead of today's vaccine meeting and defended the decision to buy vaccines collectively across the EU.

  • She also outlined what she thought of European plans to restrict exports of vaccines.

  • We see very clearly that vaccines produced in the UK remain in the U.

  • K.

  • The United States are not exporting and so that leaves us in a position where we have to ask whether what we produce in Europe should be allowed to live because this virus is continually mutating and the situation will continue well beyond this year.

  • Uh Angela Merkel there Well, I'm joined now by Kathleen Van Brandt, Belgian M E P.

  • And European Parliament trade coordinator for the S and D Parliamentary Group.

  • Thank you very much for joining us here on the program.

  • Kathleen.

  • The issue of of tighter controls and export restrictions, it's still very much on the table.

  • The EU is reluctant to call this a band What is it in your view?

  • Well, they keep on saying it's not a band, but it can be a ban if it is used as a band and that will be the possibility.

  • And in that sense I disagree with the measure having said that and that was also in your program.

  • We have to really look into the AstraZeneca problem because there's a big imbalance between AstraZeneca in the UK and AstraZeneca in Europe, and that is unacceptable.

  • We should be an open economy.

  • We should provide for vaccines in the rest of the world.

  • But we should not be naive and there we have to rebalance the situation in the UK.

  • Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, has said.

  • The difference between as you say the UK and the EU when it comes to AstraZeneca is the contract.

  • The UK signed exclusivity in its deal and the EU went for best efforts.

  • So in terms of the Q, he's saying the U.

  • K is ahead of in the queue.

  • It doesn't work that way.

  • I don't know what's in the contract of the U.

  • K hasn't seen.

  • That's one of the problems for members of Parliament in the UK and in in in Europe that these contracts are not very transparent.

  • Having said that, it's up to lawyers to see what the finesses, but they seem to be very contradictory.

  • A company like like us does any cannot have a contract with you promising a load of vaccines and making completely other promise with U.

  • K.

  • That is not possible.

  • So I think they are in contradiction and there we should rebalance best to do that by going into a dialogue with each other.

  • And I think we're getting there somewhere because everybody knows if we proceed in this vaccine war, then at the end UK will have less vaccines and then you will have less vaccines and the rest of the world will have less vaccines.

  • So there's only one way to deal with that.

  • If that is dialogue and seek to solve this problem.

  • But it needs to be solved because UK received 10 millions of vaccines from Europe and Europe receives long from the UK, and that is not that is not correct.

  • If you look at the messaging of the European leaders, European countries, many would say it has been confused on the one hand, you're questioning the efficacy of this actual vaccine saying that we're holding the rollout we're taking.

  • Precautions were suspending because we're concerned about blood clots.

  • On the other hand, you're saying we need more of these vaccines because the fact of the matter is that there are tens of thousands of AstraZeneca vaccines in places like Germany.

  • In France, where people are now hesitant to go and take the vaccine well, it's a very delicate issue, and we need to keep up support of the public opinion for vaccination.

  • All the vaccines, by the way.

  • It's not an easy task.

  • Having said that in Belgium, the country where I come from, we never stopped using AstraZeneca kept on vaccinating.

  • Um, and all the other countries are resuming the vaccination.

  • The reason they stopped there were questions about some of the effects.

  • Um, and there's seeking the balance.

  • What do we take and what do we not take at the end of the line?

  • We need at least 70% of our people being vaccinated to have, uh, immunity for the whole population.

  • So it's a difficult balance, but I don't think Do you think it was politicized when you've got the World Health Organization when you've got various different regulators saying this vaccine is fine.

  • This vaccine has been used on 17 million people and only 40 or so people have these blood clots.

  • Why are you suspending this?

  • Do you think that it had become politicized in the end by European leaders?

  • But can I can I outline?

  • I don't know what it's politicized in.

  • Some of the member states might be the case, and that would be really doubtful.

  • That would not be a good case, but was not European Commission of the European authorities that took that stance on the country that kept on saying it was It was safe.

  • And then the European Agency took it again into consideration and again said it was safe.

  • So I think authorities, especially European authorities, took the stands, keep on vaccinating like the World Health Organization, and I truly hope it was not politicize.

  • It would have been extremely stupid to politicize the safety of the vaccine.

  • Kathleen Van Braam Thank you so much for joining us here on our program.

Hello and welcome to BBC World News.

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EU leaders hold talks to discuss Covid vaccine supplies – BBC News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/25
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