German Media Slams EU Vaccine Failures

The mood began to turn on the German government last week, as soaring cases coupled with the lack of vaccine rollout, disappointed. Best selling newspaper Bild pointed out that the first German had been vaccinated… in the UK. Now Der Spiegel has produced a scathing analysis of the centralised, slow, and inadequate common EU vaccine scheme. As it says, beyond slow approval, “the EU appears to have bought too little, too late and at times from the wrong producers.”

German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced there will initially only be 400,000 vaccine doses for Germany, with millions more not following until well into the new year. By contrast, as of this weekend the UK, with a smaller population, has already delivered 500,000 doses. The failure is clear, and Der Spiegel sets out several reasons for it:

  • The EU “didn’t place concrete orders until mid-November.”
  • The EU purchased too few doses of the vaccine.
  • The EU focussed on the wrong producers, “it appears that it turned down hundreds of millions of vaccine doses that are now lacking.” As Guido reported last week, the EU turned down an offer of 500 million Pfizer doses…
  • The EU was nationalistic in its procurement, leaning heavily on an order of 300 million doses from French company Sanofi, despite American companies showing more promising early trial results.
  • EU countries opposed German attempts to procure more Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, out of a sense of ‘European solidarity’. One EU procurement insider told Der Spiegel “buying more from a German company wasn’t on the cards” in order to achieve balance with the French company.

While the EU now intents to procure a further 100 million doses from Pfizer and 80 million from Moderna, these will most likely not come until the second half of next year. And in the not-impossible case that these are the only two vaccines that are approved, those orders will not nearly be enough to cover the EU’s population. Boris was initially reticent to say Brexit has helped with the UK’s world beating vaccine rollout. As time goes on it looks more like he needn’t have been…

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Mood Turns on Merkel as First German is Vaccinated… In UK

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is clearly feeling the pressure as cases soar and Germany descends into even tighter lockdown, closing all non-essential businesses and even schools until at least January. Spahn took to Twitter yesterday to beg the EU to approve the vaccine, arguing that the EU’s delay is undermining “the trust of the citizens in the ability of the European Union to act” and “Every day that we start vaccinating earlier will reduce suffering”. Though, of course, Brexit had no effect on the UK’s early approval…

Experts like Paul Welfens of the University of Wuppertal are now arguing that Germany’s delays cost more than 20,000 lives. Meanwhile, the UK has been vaccinating for a week and the US starts today. Spahn reportedly confessed yesterday at a Corona summit with the German Chancellor over the weekend that “Germany would have been significantly faster in a single, national approval process.”

The best selling European newspaper Bild came out with a scorching lead editorial yesterday slamming the German Government for “political failure” over Coronavirus. The paper writes that whilst Germany came through the early part of this pandemic relatively unscathed, that is now in the past and the country is struggling.

“we are currently only watching how other countries start vaccinating because the EU is lagging behind with approval due to reasons of deadlines. If every day counts, that is unreasonable. The first German was vaccinated yesterday – in England …

Aside from Germany having to wait for the lethargic EU to approve vaccine, the editorial slams the implementation of Germany’s restrictions, saying “everything that has caused massive infections, such as large wedding celebrations, has been banned for months, but has not been effectively prevented.” Restaurants, bars and leisure centres had already been closed for months too. Germany is certainly no longer the Wunderkind of Europe…
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German Health Minister: Brexit Enabled Earlier British Vaccine Rollout

Smug Remainers have today been crowing that the Pfizer vaccine was approved today in the UK under the EU medicines regime (all EU law still applies to the UK until the end of this month). Whilst vaccine approval is reserved matter for the European Medical Agency, the EU Medicines Directive generously allows national medicines regulators (like the UK’s MHRA) to temporarily approve products for use in response to the spread of pathogens. Like Covid-19.

Yet the fact is that had the UK remained a member of the EU it would not have been able to approve the vaccine this quickly. As Jens Spahn, the German health minister, explained earlier today, despite the exemption in EU law, EU member states took a collective decision to take a common approach to vaccine approval. As a result of Brexit the UK is not an EU member state and therefore not locked into that common approach…

“All 27 member states will have access to vaccines at the same time otherwise some member states may have have been able to procure vaccines at an earlier stage that others”

“We have member states including, Germany, who could have issued such an emergency authorisation if we’d wanted to. But we decided against this and what we opted for was a common European approach to move forward together.”

And moving at the speed of 27 is evidently slower than moving at the speed of one…

UK Ministers are today correctly saying that the law was changed in October to allow this all to happen. What they are referring to is amending the Human Medicines Regulations to clarify ambiguity surrounding the “temporary” vaccine approval EU law grants to member states – those ambiguities factoring into the the reasons the EU decided to move collectively. The UK’s law changes ensure that vaccines ‘temporarily’ authorised under the EU’s regulations are treated in the same way as fully licensed products. The changes ensure rollout can happen, whereas under the EU directive, advertising and distribution could have been hindered… 

mdi-timer 2 December 2020 @ 15:59 2 Dec 2020 @ 15:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments