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Brawling Over Vaccines: Export Bans And The EU’s Bungled Rollout

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Brawling Over Vaccines: Export Bans And The EU’s Bungled Rollout

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Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The European Union has been keeping up appearances in encouraging the equitable distribution of vaccines to combat SARS-CoV-2 and its disease, COVID-19.  Numerous statements speak to the need to back the COVAX scheme, to ensure equity and that no one state misses out.  And EU member states could be assured of a smooth vaccine rollout, led by the EU apparatus, humming with needle jabbing efficiency.  Negotiating as a bloc, lower prices could be assured, along with an appropriate supply of vaccines across the 27 member states.

These initial hopes have been shredded.  While the vaccination programs in Israel, the United Kingdom and even the United States have gathered form and speed, it has stuttered and stumbled in the EU.  The companies behind the vaccines have been patchy in their production lines.  Authorities have put halts on jabs and in some cases, introduced rationing.

In January, the manufacturers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine informed the European Commission that it would ship fewer doses to the bloc than originally understood.  “While there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca explained, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”  The initial cut in supply was dramatic: from the initially promised number of 90 million does, the number would be 40 million.

Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety, was indignant. Discussions with the company, she recorded on Twitter, “resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations.”  Members of the EU were “united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold.”

The company then promised in early February to make up the missing doses.  In this, the EU was found wanting in its contractual negotiations with AstraZeneca.  The EU-AstraZeneca deal, written in Belgian law, stresses the “best reasonable effort” of both parties to deliver the goods in question and acting in good faith.  The UK-AstraZeneca agreement, written in English law, also contains the best reasonable effort clause, but features a toothier provision.  Should AstraZeneca or its subcontractors be persuaded to do anything that might hold up the supply of vaccine doses, the UK government reserves the right to terminate the contract and invoke penalties.

The EU was left with essentially meek retaliations: withholding payments till the company coughed up promised supply, or till it assisted finding other producers who might make the vaccine.  Tellingly, the EU had also waived its right to sue AstraZeneca in the event of delays.

The UK negotiators were also sharp enough to clarify the chain of supply (places of manufacture, for instance), putting the onus on the company to cover any unpredicted fall promised doses.  The EU, in an act fit for commercial dunces, had tied itself in knots.

The AstraZeneca drama was but one in what can only be seen as a failure in manufacture, supply and distribution.  Pfizer-BioNTech, having made a deal for the supply of 300 million doses with the EU, also saw reductions in their deliveries to enable its Belgium processing plant to increase capacity.  In January, Italy was informed about successive reductions of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: 20% and 29% in respective quarters of the month.  The more granular picture was even more severe, with various Italian regions seeing a fall of 60% of doses.

This picture of struggle was repeated that same month in Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia and the Spanish capital, Madrid. Rationing of distribution was introduced by the Spanish government.  Polish officials were sufficiently angered by Pfizer-BioNTech to threaten legal action.

Hungary, preferring a different, more unilateral way of coping with the shambles, approved the use of other vaccines otherwise held up in the queue of the European Medicines Agency.  The vaccines from China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V have passed regulator muster, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself receiving the former at the end of last month.  “Without the Chinese and Russian vaccines,” the pugnacious populist reasoned, “we would have big problems.”

Last month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was rather confessional in a speech on the failings of the EU vaccination policy.  “We were late in granting authorisation. We were too optimistic about mass production.  And maybe we also took for granted that the doses ordered would actually arrive on time.”

The European scene was ready for a more global brawl over vaccines and their shipments.  On February 26, Italian authorities urged the European Commission to block 250,700 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine destined for Australia.  The reason was put down to AstraZeneca’s failure to live up to expectations in supply and Australia not being a “vulnerable country”.  The request was also based on the EU export control mechanism on COVID-19 vaccines, introduced in January with the intention to block exports of vaccines outside the union.  “The objective of this measure,” came the European Commission’s justification, “is to ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for all EU citizens and to tackle the current lack of transparency of vaccine exports outside the EU.”

Since its inception, the European Commission has proved slow on the draw; 174 authorisations for millions of shots to 30 countries have been granted.  Set to expire on March 31, the European Commission is proposing the extension of this measure into June.  Many member states approve.  France even went so far as to publicly back Italy’s request.  The country’s Health Minister Olivier Véran summed up the mood in an interview with BFMTV channel: “Believe me, the more doses I have, the happier I am as health minister.”

Germany also added its voice of approval.  “In general,” stated German government spokesman Steffen Seibert, “vaccine exports aren’t stopped as long as the contracts with the EU are abided by.”  Cattily, Seibert excused the EU’s regulatory restrictions by claiming that many “vaccines go from the EU to third countries, while nothing or almost is exported from the United States and Great Britain.”  German Health Minister Jens Spahn was more reserved, warning that such moves could cause “problems in the medium term by disrupting the supply chains for vaccines”.

Australia’s protests were more of minor irritation than anger.  Canberra had, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, “raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision.”  Prime Minister Scott Morrison was even understanding to a point, acknowledging that Italy was seeing a death rate of 300 a day.  Europe faced “an unbridled situation.  That is not the situation in Australia.”

Vaccine patriotism was always going to surface to dampen any optimism on the part of public health utopians.  Countries and self-interest come before the noble aspirations of humanity.  The Director General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala laments that WTO members, to the extent they had “export restrictions or even prohibitions of these goods [vaccines]” were holding “back recovery.”

A great danger to the EU in this ugly affair will be whether certain nation states within the family will take its efforts in combating COVID-19 seriously.  As shown by Hungary’s example, the bunglers in Brussels risk being ignored altogether.

As for the blocking of vaccine exports to third countries, Bernd Lange, the German MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s trade committee, is gloomy and regretful.  The European export mechanism risked constituting a de facto ban.  “Pandora’s box opened,” he wrote on Twitter in response to the Italian decision.  “Mistake.”  Imitators would follow, as could “fatal consequences on supply chains.”  A global conflict over the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is in the offing.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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Supreme Blyat

It’s the Western production chrisis, covid only revealed. Western industry it’s a bit challenged and outdated. China (and its satellites) is the future.

Oliver Eitel

Well, in financial capitalism you do not needan industry to generate wealth….you just create bubbles and inflate asset prices of housemarkets and shares of companies….its the western economy styl that is failing and generating nothing more than poverty and misery, it failed already in 2008 but they continue with the same shit! China wins not because of Communism, but because of old industrial capitalism regulated by the government….so that corporations have to serve a public interest and not just their own…..in the west its the opposite thats why we have casino capitalism which developed out of financial capitalism it is rigged and total fake….the rich stay rich because they get more and more money for free vai bailouts, taxcuts etc. just the rest suffers from inflations it is slowly and painful death for Europeans and Americans…and all idiots that follow this economic miss-managment and corruption scheme…. because that is what Western Economy is about today! For Turkey I hope they get closer to the Eurasion Union and the new silk road….there they have much more to expect and to gain from as from a dying US and collapsing EU….its also Time for Turkey to take the place as leader of the Sunni-Muslims away from Saudi Arabia….as it is nothing more than a joke….after Saudi Regime is weakend, Turkey could bring some democracy to Saudi Arabia XD….. Iran wouldnt mind nor Russia, and USA will be too weak and I guess many people in Saudi Arabia wouldn’r care if a Turkish puppet would govern Saudi Arabia as long as they get more freedom and rights…and the unnecessary blood sheet between Sunni and Shia stops in middle east…Turkey and Iran could unite the Muslim world and that would scare everyone…..uniting this countries and linking them economicly would also make greate sense….

Supreme Blyat

Haha lol sorry too long to read X))

JIMI JAMES

Lest europe keep their vaccines,usa too,we don’t really need them but for optional vaccines like the rest of the others at discetion of the peoples consent,Check out Australian stats,don’t need them!
Morrison is playing the wise hand,he is not perfect but to be frank the best leader in oz 21st cen,
to date,which says a helluva lot more for that useless eu-epp/corporation,ripp everyone off regime!

Peter Jennings

None of this is about access to ‘vaccines’. The scam is so lucrative, shysters are fighting over market share. They are terrorists fighting over the spoils of war. A war waged on their own people for personal profit and an invite to the NWO party.

FlorianGeyer

In my humble opinion, it is a reality that the vast majority of unelected EU ministers have NEVER had a proper job in all their miserable existence.
This statement would also apply to the ‘Democratically Elected’ parasites as well.

Arguably this has always been so with ruling dynasty’s as well.
In previous centuries the aggregation of venal stupidity was not a global issue. It was an issue that has been to the detriment of the majority for thousands of years.

On the past there were ‘pogrom’ style cleansings with local and regional actions that blew off some steam in the pressure cookers of life.
Today we are in a transition to either decades of tyranny and ‘woke’ cleansing, or a period of great social unrest that will usher in another cycle of the destruction of the High Priests of Mammon who currently enslave us all, either with debt or metal chains.

Today is a good time to be in the winter years of life, I suspect. :)

Peter Jennings

I prefer the Autumn myself.

We are at a crossroad for sure. The Brexit movement has shown that people aren’t so daft after all. The Brexit vote wasn’t just a rejection of EU policies and mandarins, but also the NWO who channel their vile through Brussels.

Clarence Spangle

“The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debt.” ― Henry Ford
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Hasbara Hunter

Let all them Sheeple get their EXPERIMENTAL Vaccination…I’m very curious where this Biggest Human-Guinee-Pig-Experiment in the Entire History of Mankind will lead to…

LESS SHEEPLE PERHAPS?

Peter Jennings

And less people to kick up a fuss. The NWO are scared shitless by the masses.

At least us die hards will be around for a while longer. Maybe get some popcorn and relax? The biggest problem will be to watch willing family members and friends line up for their own gamble with the latest and subsequent NWO euthanasia efforts.

Hasbara Hunter

Yeah Popcorn & Relax…I enjoy the Show…the Wheel is already set in motion…I informed all my Relatives & Friends…3 years ago they would not have listened…These days they DO…
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johnny rotten

Privatizing Healthcare by making human health profitable is one of the most significant steps towards barbarism. And it is also one of the richest gifts to the usual people of the big nose tribe.

Clarence Spangle

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HiaNd

Perhaps US should “vaccinate” against old, collapsing infrastructure?
Derailed trains and falling bridges, old bumpy roads…comment image?itok=mI7Nfspecomment imagecomment imagecomment imagecomment image?fit=crop&auto=compress%2Cformat&w=1200comment image

Dick Von Dast'Ard

As far as I understand the data, the percentage chances of serious complications leading to deaths with Western vaccines is actually higher than the survival rates having Covid.
Something like 99.8% survive having a Covid infection, 96% survive Western Covid vaccine inoculation.

julot

Is it to have us believe the experimental gene therapy suggested to lead to cancer is in demand ? Who doesnt know already that big pharma business model is to hurt people with “vaxxins” to be able to sell them expensive drugs for the rest of their life ?

Raptar Driver

Monkeys fighting over their last poisoned meal.

SnowCatzor

The EU is paying for its arrogance and beaurecratic inefficiency. This is prime example of why Britian was smart in leaving that horrible pseudo state. Meanwhile Hungary shows that it has the only sane leader in Europe yet again.

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