Vaccine row: EU chief claims bloc's jab rate is 'same' as UK
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Ray Bassett was speaking at a time when the UK was administering jabs to its citizens at a rate three times that of the EU. Furthermore, it was widely reported that the UK was likely to offer surplus coronavirus vaccine doses to neighbouring Ireland – led by Taoiseach Micheal Martin – in a move which Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said further underlined the EU’s shambolic approach.
Through its own incompetence, the EU Commission has lost control of the situation
He told Express.co.uk: “The other EU countries, especially France, would not like a UK donation of vaccines to Ireland.
“But in reality solidarity inside the EU on vaccines has long broken down and many of the member states are going their own way.
“Through its own incompetence, the EU Commission has lost control of the situation.”
According to the Our World in Data website, the UK has so far offered at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose to 51.58 people out of every 100 UK citizens as of March 31.
Within the EU27, as of yesterday, the figure stood at 16.55.
Mr Bassett suggested the starkly contrasting numbers would not be lost on individual member states.
He said: “They will definitely be watching closely.
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“All EU governments are under pressure for their failure to deliver.
“Many will be hoping that the UK does not provide Ireland with extra doses as it will make them look even worse.”
He added: “There seems to be growing disenchantment with the EU, especially in Germany.
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“Both it and Austria have been outspoken in their criticism of Brussels.
“There will be a huge temptation to break ranks.
“Hungary broke ranks early and now has the highest percentage of its population vaccinated.
“Serbia is now assisting some of the other Balkan nations with vaccination.
“It seems the EU States are lagging behind everybody else.”
The urgency of the situation was clearly indicated on Thursday when it was revealed the EU had asked India to allow it to buy 10 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India, a government official said, the latest sign of growing pressure on Delhi to export more of its production to other countries.
The EU wants the doses from Serum, the world’s largest vaccine maker, to offset supply shortfalls from AstraZeneca’s European plants and speed up the bloc’s vaccine roll-out.
Any quick approval of the EU request is unlikely, however, with India scrambling to expand its own domestic vaccination drive, said the Indian government official, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private.
Serum was originally supposed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine only for low and medium-income countries.
However, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “The EU ambassador wrote a letter, saying, please give us export approvals,” adding that the letter had been sent a fortnight ago.
Speaking on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference the COVAX facility to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries faces a “serious challenge” to meet demand.
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