Von der Leyen’s Political Party to Host Anti-Fake News Vaccine Conference

Ursula von der Leyen’s ‘European People’s Party’ is hosting a virtual event this afternoon entitled “A Jab to Fake News”. This in the same week that von der Leyen herself has taken to claiming – without evidence – that the UK has compromised on vaccine safety. Seriously.

Among the speakers are former European Council President Donald Tusk along with current Health Commissioner (and vaccine nationalist) Stella Kyriakides. This comes after figures within Germany’s governing CDU Party – also a member of the EPP – have been rumoured to be behind false briefing that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is only 8% effective on those older than 65, fake claims that have been promoted in the German press and taken up by Emmanuel Macron. Guido’s not sure the EPP are the people to firefight vaccine fake news…

A Brussels insider with knowledge of the event tells Guido the federalist party will attempt to use the conference to try and push the message that the EU should be more involved in healthcare. The classic reflex of the Eurofederalist. A problem in Europe? The answer: more EU.

mdi-timer 4 February 2021 @ 09:26 4 Feb 2021 @ 09:26 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU AstraZeneca Row Gets Heated

Despite not having yet approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and not having placed any provisional orders until a full three months later than the UK, the EU is now making moves to prevent any leaving the protectionist bloc. As AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot told Italy’s la Repubblica yesterday:

“… we are basically two months behind where we wanted to be. We’ve had also teething issues like this in the UK supply chain. But the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal. So with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced. As for Europe, we are three months behind in fixing those glitches.

Not only is the EU three months behind the UK on technical glitch fixes, but also because of the bloc’s bureaucratic delay in signing a contract, AstraZeneca pledged a “best effort” not a commitment to fulfil the order numbers. Soriot went on to say…

“… we didn’t commit with the EU, by the way. It’s not a commitment we have to Europe: it’s a best effort, we said we are going to make our best effort. The reason why we said that is because Europe at the time wanted to be supplied more or less at the same time as the UK, even though the contract was signed three months later. So we said, “ok, we’re going to do our best, we’re going to try, but we cannot commit contractually because we are three months behind UK”.”

Yet despite the facts on the ground the EU is now panicking. This afternoon, Madrid cancelled all planned vaccinations for two weeks as Spain ran out of supplies. Germany last night formally demanded that EU grant it powers to block the export of all vaccines produced within the EU. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides delivered an angry press conference this afternoon saying:

“Pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers have moral, societal and contractual obligations that they must assume.”

Kyriakides does not accept the distinction between best effort and commitments. Nor that the EU should have been more nimble in its procurement, and urgent in its approval. And perhaps if the bloc stopped briefing fake and incendiary news reports about efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine they would be more inclined to work together… 

mdi-timer 27 January 2021 @ 15:43 27 Jan 2021 @ 15:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU ‘Vaccine Nationalism’ Incites Frigid War of Words

Bombshell anonymous claims surfaced in the EU last night, with German business paper Handelsblatt claiming that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine “hardly works in seniors“. The claims sourced from anonymous figures in the German government are completely at odds with the assessment of the MHRA, AstraZeneca, and the study data published in The Lancet. Guido does start to wonder who is more likely to be right, an independent regulator and a compony with its reputation on the line… or anonymous German sources…

The timing of this anonymous briefing came after a day of rows in the EU over AstraZeneca’s announcement it will not be able to deliver its full order to the EU by March as intended. EU Health Commissioner slammed the shortfall as “not acceptable” and went on to threaten tight export controls over all vaccines produced in the EU in retaliation. That anonymous briefing slamming AstraZeneca at the height of this row is possibly not entirely unrelated…

The mood in Westminster is furious, with Guido receiving a colourful variety of sweary texts from backbenchers describing what some fear comes close to psychological warfare. Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi barely struck a more emollient tone on this morning’s broadcast round, repeatedly slamming the EU’s “vaccine nationalism” across multiple broadcasters. Expect the ‘low efficacy’ row to run until more data is published. Someone is going to end up with ei auf seinem Gesicht.

mdi-timer 26 January 2021 @ 08:51 26 Jan 2021 @ 08:51 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments