EU unity splinters: Four states ‘offered’ own AstraZeneca jabs despite delays to EU scheme

EU vaccine strategy 'a recipe for disaster' says MEP

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Czech prime minister Andrej Babis claimed he and three other leaders were made offers of deliveries of the Oxford-produce jab to circumvent delays to the bloc’s supply. He said: “While AstraZeneca was refusing to deliver to the EU 80 million doses, we received repeated offers of this vaccine – not only me but three other prime ministers in Europe – even before the start of deliveries to the EU. “A company, an intermediary from Dubai – with 50 percent prepayment.”

The billionaire Czech leader added: “Believe me, we would definitely use this opportunity if it was realistic, but we cannot afford it. Of course, we have some EU agreements and we have to respect them.”

Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca denied making any approaches to Prague or any other EU capitals.

A spokesman for the firm warned EU states that private offers for vaccines are likely “counterfeit”.

He said: “There is no truth to this report.

Our current focus is delivering on our substantial global commitments to governments and international health organisations, as quickly as possible to help end the pandemic; as such there is currently no private sector supply, sale or distribution of the vaccine.

“If someone offers private vaccines, it is likely counterfeit, so it should be refused and reported to local health authorities.”

The European Commission, which is handling the procurement of coronavirus vaccines for the bloc, refused to comment.

A spokesman added: “The purchase and delivery of vaccines in our portfolio is part of the strategy we have had in place since June, in the framework of concerted work between Commission and member states and covers those companies in that vaccine portfolio.”

AstraZeneca was at the centre of a heated row with the Commission after the vaccine firm had to slash the number of vaccines it set to send to member states in the coming months.

The UK-based firm eventually said it could ship 80 million doses of the Oxford-produced jab before the end of March.

EU capitals’ efforts to roll out coronavirus jabs has been hindered by shortages.

As a result, the EU’s reputation has been dealt a devastating blow, according to a new study.

A survey in Germany, the EU’s biggest member state, found the bloc’s image had suffered as a result of its bungled vaccine scheme.

Around two-thirds of those surveyed said Brussels’ reputation had taken a hit mainly because of the joint procurement of doses of Covid jabs for member states.

More specifically, 22 percent replied that it had “mostly deteriorated” and 42 percent said it had “clearly deteriorated”.

In contrast, only six percent of respondents to the survey claimed the EU’s reputation had improved as a result of its centralised vaccine scheme.

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