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  • The UK and EU have rowed over supplies of the AstraZeneca

  • jab, raising fears of a vaccine export war.

  • Here are five takeaways about what has happened in Europe

  • and what the future may hold.

  • All options are on the table.

  • We are in the crisis of the century.

  • The wave of suspensions by EU countries

  • of their Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine immunisation drives

  • over safety fears is the latest blow in a troubled relationship

  • with the company.

  • Regulators have reviewed reports of dangerous blood clots

  • in some people who've had the vaccine,

  • but so far have said that there's nothing

  • unduly to worry about.

  • The difficulties come after repeated AstraZeneca delivery

  • shortfalls on a contract the EU had

  • made the centrepiece of its Covid-19 inoculation drive.

  • Initially, the European bloc had expected

  • to receive 300m doses of the jab by the end of June,

  • but now it looks like it's in line to get no more than about

  • a third of that.

  • The EU's short to medium-term supply worries

  • go beyond the AstraZeneca vaccine.

  • The bloc signed its contract for the pioneering BioNTech-Pfizer

  • mRNA vaccine months after the UK and the US

  • did, although the EU has since doubled

  • its original 300m-dose order.

  • The EU has also been scrambling to ensure

  • that it can do the so-called fill

  • and finish on the single-dose Johnson & Johnson

  • vaccine on European territory.

  • At some point, the EU's bulging portfolio,

  • more than $2bn vaccine doses, will leave it with a glut.

  • But that's not going to come for a while yet.

  • The EU vaccine joint procurement scheme

  • that the European Commission runs with member states

  • has drawn plenty of fire.

  • Critics say it didn't bet big enough, boldly enough, or early

  • enough on the leading vaccines, unlike the US and UK.

  • The EU put up less money up front

  • on developing new vaccines and building manufacturing

  • capacity, some analysts say.

  • European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen

  • denies that the EU was too slow, too reluctant to spend,

  • and says the bloc's main problems have

  • been in managing expectations.

  • These problems have been compounded

  • by member state actions.

  • Some have failed to use the vaccines that

  • have been delivered.

  • Others have held back doses for second shots,

  • even though a growing body of evidence

  • suggests it's better to give one shot to as many people as

  • possible.

  • A group of nations restricted the use of the AstraZeneca

  • vaccine in older people, contrary to the European

  • Medicines Agency which said it was good for use

  • with all adults.

  • And now some of that group reversed their position

  • and fallen in line with the agency.

  • We in this country don't believe in blockades.

  • We're all fighting the same pandemic.

  • Many EU states still express confidence

  • in the bloc's joint vaccine procurement scheme.

  • That's particularly true for smaller countries who

  • would otherwise struggle in the international scramble

  • among rich countries for vaccines.

  • But at the same time, a number of countries are hedging

  • their bets and making arrangements outside

  • of the programme.

  • Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic

  • have all either bought, or are eyeing,

  • Russian and Chinese vaccines that have yet

  • to be approved by the EU.

  • At the same time, the EU has introduced new rules

  • to curb the export of vaccines beyond its borders.

  • It's a sign of likely disputes to come as countries grapple

  • to keep production on their own soil for their own use in this

  • and future pandemics.

  • There's been a lot of debate about

  • whether Brexit helped the UK achieve a faster vaccine

  • rollout.

  • The answer isn't straightforward.

  • It's true, London could technically

  • have done all the deals and the fast track regulatory approvals

  • it has managed while it was still in the EU,

  • but it's also true that it would have been

  • under political pressure to stay in line

  • with the joint bloc vaccine procurement scheme,

  • if it had joined at all.

  • A final lesson of the pandemic is

  • that national fortunes can change, and fast.

  • The UK's vaccine rollout is riding high at the moment,

  • but the EU's relative scarcity will soon turn into a surfeit.

  • And at that point, questions will be asked even more

  • pointedly about how rich countries

  • are going to ensure fair distribution to the multitudes

  • of people around the world for whom immunisation still

  • remains a distant dream.

The UK and EU have rowed over supplies of the AstraZeneca

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EU vaccine rollout: 5 takeaways | FT

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    洪子雯 posted on 2021/03/27
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