Vaccine crisis ‘terribly managed by the EU’ says expert
Robert Abela warned the EU chief that European procurement of coronavirus vaccines was failing small countries like Malta and called for a “more balanced approach.” The Maltese leader criticized the shortcomings of the beloved EU Single Market, claiming that the system does not guarantee a balanced distribution of vaccine vials across the bloc.
Abela also highlighted how Brexit has left his country dependent on a system that has so far failed to live up to expectations, warning that EU health problems could lead to the collapse of Malta’s health system.
He wrote: “The reality is that there is no true single market for pharmaceuticals for patients.
‘Access to pharmaceutical products depends on the financial viability of the pharmaceutical product on the market of each Member State.
This has led to the creation of a long-standing structural problem, especially for the smaller Member States.
“Unfortunately, with the UK’s departure from the EU, Malta has lost its main legal vehicle for supplying medicines to its patients.
EU vaccine news: Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela urged Charles Michel to take a balanced approach to vaccines (Image: GETTY)
EU vaccines – Charles Michel was told Malta is approaching a collapse in healthcare (Image: GETTY)
“I am very concerned about this situation, as the shortage of medicines will undermine the effectiveness of our healthcare system.”
“This is even more concerning, as we are currently in the middle of a health crisis.”
Malta’s prime minister said he also wrote to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, urging her to take “concrete action” on more joint procurement initiatives at the EU level in the future.
It comes after the head of the Commission was forced to apologize after getting into a bitter contract dispute with Oxford vaccine producer AstraZeneca.
The dispute escalated when Ms Von der Leyen threatened the UK to ban the export of vaccines against Northern Ireland by activating Article 16 of the Brexit protocol.
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EU vaccine news: Von der Leyen urged to resign (Image: GETTY)
The measure was quickly withdrawn and the contracts with AstraZeneca were published after MEPs demanded clarity from the head of the EU.
But the damage is already done.
The head of the Commission delivered a humiliating apology to the European Parliament admitting her failures.
But Ms Von der Leyen tried to explain the failed process for technical reasons.
She said: “There is no compromise we can make when it comes to injecting people with biologically active substances into an individual in good health.
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EU News: Von der Leyen said he made a mistake activating Article 16 (Image: GETTY)
‘And that is the reason why we rely on the European Medicines Agency procedure.
“And yes, that means approval takes three to four more weeks.”
The next day, his mea culpa was not enough to squash criticism from French politicians, who quickly took to Twitter to attack the EU chief.
Jerome Riviere MEP said: “The people of Europe will not forget the total failure of this EU and its dramatic handling of the health crisis.”
Echoing Riviere’s comment, Manon Aubry MEP wrote: “The EU strategy on vaccines is a real fiasco; we are capable of imposing restrictions on all citizens, but not rules for large pharmaceutical companies ”.
Coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the world as of February 20 (Image: EXPRESS)
National Rally MEP Nicolas Bay added: “All countries that have asked for vaccines outside the EU are doing better. The European Union is failing ‘.
Ms Von der Leyen, who has also spoken to five groups of MEPs in recent weeks, said 26 million doses of vaccines had been delivered and that, by the end of summer, 70 percent of adults in the bloc of 27 nations should have been inoculated.
He told Parliament: ‘And yet it is a fact that we are not where we want to be today in the fight against the virus.
We were late with the approval. We were too optimistic about mass production.
“And perhaps we were also too sure that the orders would be delivered on time.”
EU News: Von der Leyen apologized for his mistakes in purchasing the covid vaccine (Image: GETTY)
Ms Von der Leyen said that mistakes were also made that led to the decision on export restrictions.
“I am deeply sorry,” he said, adding that the Commission would do everything possible to protect the peace in Northern Ireland.
Avoiding a border between EU member Ireland and Britain-ruled Northern Ireland is seen as key to protecting the peace process there.
However, Ms Von der Leyen defended the Commission’s carelessness, adding that ‘in the end, we got it right’.