Great Britain

Brussels launches desperate defence of failed vaccine scheme as six states rebel

Angela Merkel's vaccine stance discussed by Gyles Brandreth

Six European countries have ditched the eurocrat-led joint procurement scheme amid fears the Continent is facing a third wave of infections and lengthier lockdowns. Austria and Denmark are leading the charge in the break away from European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen’s programme. And Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already unveiled plans to go it alone with Chinese and Russian-made vaccines, which are not yet approved by EU regulators.

The bloc has so far only managed to administer 33.3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, just 7.5 percent of its 450-million population.

In contrast, one in three British adults have received their first jab with the NHS delivering more than 20 million shots.

Despite growing anger, the Commission launched a desperate defence of its bungled programme. 

A spokesman said: “It’s not that the strategy unravelled.

EU vaccine scheme rebellion

Six EU states have broken away from the bloc's bungled vaccine scheme (Image: GETTY)

Ursula von der Leyen

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has taken personal charge of the scheme (Image: GETTY)

“For our vaccines, we go through the European Medicines Agency because we want to ensure efficacy and safety. What member states do in addition to that, it’s their responsibility.”

He added eurocrats are keen to “learn lessons” from countries outperforming the bloc in the vaccine race. 

The spokesman said: “The COVID-19 virus requires a global response and lessons from other countries are very helpful here.

“The Commission would definitely be invested in learning from Austria, Denmark and Israel, that would add some value to the vaccine strategy.”

Sebastian Kurz

Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz has approached Israel to buy its leftover vaccines (Image: GETTY)

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz fumed that the EU’s drugs watchdog had been “too slow” to approve the jabs.

He will jet to Israel to negotiate the purchase of leftover vaccines to compensate for shortfalls in the EU scheme.

He told Germany's biggest selling newspaper Bild: “We must therefore prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent only on the EU for the production of second-generation vaccines."

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has signalled she will also travel to Tel Aviv to broker her own agreement for excess vaccines.

MUST READ: EU rebellion: Four states abandon Von der Leyen as bloc loses patience

Covid vaccination live

Covid vaccination live (Image: EXPRESS)

Poland and Hungary are in talks with Beijing to secure millions of doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last weekend posed for the cameras receiving the controversial shot.

The firebrand leader has secured a deal for the Kremlin-backed Sputnik V jab, which is also being shipped to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Mr Orban last month said: “We’ve sought to do something together that we could have managed more successfully on an individual basis – take a look at the examples of Britain or Serbia.”

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Regional leaders in France have piled pressure onto the national government in Paris to open solo talks with pharmaceutical giants to bring in more jabs.

Germany has also placed its own orders, buying up 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine outside the EU scheme.

Berlin has also placed a separate order for 20 million doses of the CureVac jab.

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