BRUSSELS – The European Union is finalizing emergency legislation that will give it broad powers to limit exports for the next six weeks of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in its response to a lack of supplies at home that has caused political turmoil. Amidst the rise The third wave On the continent.
The bill, which is due to be published on Wednesday, has been reviewed by the New York Times and confirmed by two European Union officials involved in the drafting process. The new rules will make it harder for pharmaceutical companies that produce Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union to export them and are likely to disrupt supplies to Britain.
The European Union has been primarily at odds with AstraZeneca since it drastically cut off supplies from the bloc, citing production problems in January, and the company is the main target of the new rules. But the legislation, which could prevent millions of doses from being exported from EU ports, could also affect vaccines from Pfizer and Modern.
Britain is by far the largest recipient of EU exports and will lose the most with these rules, but they can also be applied to limit exports to other countries such as Canada, for example, the second largest recipient of vaccines made in the European Union, as well as Israel that gets Doses of agglomeration but it is Very advanced in its vaccination campaign Hence they are seen as less needy.
We are in the crisis of the century. I am not ruling anything out right now, because we have to make sure that the Europeans are inoculated as quickly as possible, ”said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in comments last week that paved the way for a new leadership. Rules. “Human life and civil liberties as well as the prosperity of our economy depend on that, on the speed of vaccination, to move forward.”
The legislation is unlikely to affect the United States, which has so far received fewer than a million doses from EU-based facilities.
The Biden administration said it had sufficient doses from the three approved manufacturers – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – to cover all adults in the country by the end of May. The bulk of this supply comes from factories in the United States. The country also exports vaccine components to the European Union, which is reluctant to risk any disruption to the raw material supply chain.
The European Union allowed pharmaceutical companies to fulfill their contracts through their mandate To export more than 40 million vaccine doses To 33 countries between February and mid-March, including 10 million to Britain and 4.3 million to Canada. The bloc has kept about 70 million at home and distributed them to its 27 member states, but its efforts to launch large-scale vaccination campaigns have been hampered by a number of hiccups.
Liberal exporting abroad was when supply at home was a major part of the problem, and the bloc was criticized for allowing export in the first place, when the United States and Britain virtually shut down domestic production for domestic use through contracts with drug companies.
The result was a disruptive vaccine release to the world’s richest group of countries. The impact of the failures is compounded by the third wave that is sending healthcare systems across the continent into an emergency and leading to painful new shutdowns.
The European Commission, which has ordered vaccines, and individual governments in member states responsible for their national campaigns have been criticized for their failures by voters tired of lockdowns and the growing number of Covid-19 cases. Public anger and its political cost increased as the bloc fell behind many of its wealthy counterparts in promoting vaccination campaigns despite being home to major manufacturers.
The cluster has seen recipients of vaccines produced in its member states, as well as in other rich countries. Race ahead with their vaccination campaigns. Nearly 60 percent of Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 40 percent of the British and a quarter of Americans, but only 10 percent of citizens of the European Union have been vaccinated, according to the most recent information published. Our world in data.
The export restrictions have been imposed by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, and while changes to the new rules can still be made before the law is finalized, officials said they are unlikely to be material. It is expected to come into effect quickly.
European Union officials said the rules would allow for a degree of secrecy, which means they will not lead to a blanket ban on exports, and officials still expect many exports to continue.
“The proposed measures are worrisome,” said Yumi Han, a spokeswoman for Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng.
Ms. Han said: “Minister Ng’s counterparts have repeatedly assured her that these measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada.” “We will continue to work with the European Union and its member states, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure that essential health and medical supply chains remain open and resilient,” she added.
Canada is counting on the European Union to supply almost all of its vaccines: All Moderna and Canadian Pfizer vaccines have come from Europe, although the country received a small shipment of AstraZeneca from India.
The new rules come after months of escalating tensions between the European Union and AstraZeneca, in a situation that has become toxic for the bloc’s fragile relations with its recently departed member, Britain.
The problem started on Late JanuaryWhen AstraZeneca told the cluster it would more than halve its deliveries in the first quarter of 2021, changing plans to roll out the vaccine. In response, the European Union instituted an export licensing process, which requires pharmaceutical companies to seek permission to export vaccines and grant the European Union powers to block them if they are perceived as inconsistent with the company’s contractual obligations to the bloc.
Since February 1, the European Union Only one blocked Among the more than 300 exports, is a small shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia, on the grounds that the country was virtually Covid-free while the bloc was struggling with mounting infections.
Draft documents show that the new rules will provide more reasons for banning exports. They will encourage a ban on shipments to countries that do not export vaccines to the European Union – an item that clearly targets Britain – or to countries that have a “higher vaccination rate” than the European Union “or where the current epidemiological situation is less dangerous” than in the bloc, according to the wording I have seen The Times.
In recent days, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to show a conciliatory tone in an effort to avoid an EU export ban that would deal a major blow to the fast-moving vaccination campaign in his country.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson said he opposes the blockade, and “some of the things I heard from the continent encouraged him.” British media reported that his government would be ready to allow the block to produce four million doses of AstraZeneca being produced at an EU-based plant.
Benjamin Muller Contributed to reporting from London, Sharon Lavranier From Washington and Ian Austin From Ottawa.