The clash between London and Brussels refocuses on covid vaccines. Ursula von der Leyen, has threatened this Wednesday with drastic measures that prevent the export of serum manufactured on European soil if “reciprocity” is not given in relation to the doses that AstraZeneca produces in its two British plants. The president of the European Commission, who has warned of the worsening of the epidemiological situation in some EU countries – “where, because of the variants, we are already seeing the crest of a third wave forming” – has once again shown very criticism of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company that had sent in the last month and a half around 10 million doses of its vaccine to the United Kingdom from its factories in Belgium and the Netherlands.
In her threat, the German has left open all the options to ensure that she will have the supply committed in the joint purchase of the Twenty-seven in due time and form. And that would include from a total blockade of exports to (nothing can be ruled out) using the route of temporary suspension of intellectual property rights. A coup of authority from Brussels motivated by the alarming loss of confidence in AstraZeneca that also coincides with the specific suspension that several Member States have decided “based on the precautionary principle” after detecting a series of thrombi in a minimum percentage among the millions of people who have been inoculated.
All options are on the table. We are facing the greatest crisis of the century and we do not rule out anything for now. We are obliged to make sure that Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible, “said Von der Leyen, who referred to the possibility of resorting to a legal mechanism that would give the EU cover to impose the blockade. The recourse to an article of the Union treaties (122) that enables the bloc to take exceptional measures “if there are serious difficulties in the supply of certain products” considered essential. This mechanism was already used during the oil crisis of the 1970s.
In the last six weeks, a total of 41 million doses of vaccines would have been exported from the EU, according to data provided by Von der Leyen herself, to 33 countries. In total, 314 export applications have been authorized and only one -250,000 doses of AstraZeneca destined for Australia – was blocked at the request of Italy.
“Roads have to have two directions and we have to guarantee that there is reciprocity and proportionality.” “If the situation does not change, we will have to rethink how to ensure that exports to countries that are also producers depend on their level of openness,” he added next.
In the opinion of the European Commission, both BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna would be fulfilling their commitments (Janssen’s formula obtained authorization from the EMA just a week ago). So the problem continues to be entrenched with AstraZeneca – which is expected to contribute only 70 million of the 180 million it committed next quarter – and the lack of supplies from its factories in the United Kingdom. Neither the United States nor other countries should be taken for granted, Von der Leyen has pointed out.
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