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Lagging in inoculations, EU demands vaccine makers honor commitments

The European Union warns pharmaceutical giants that have developed coronavirus vaccines with EU aid that it must get its shots on schedule, a day after the bloc threatened to impose export controls on vaccines produced within its borders.

The EU is making it very clear that it is bent on getting all doses as quickly as their contracts provide for at a time when infections are surging, many hospitals are overwhelmed, and many of the 27 member states are struggling to get their vaccine rollout going at top speed.

The hardening of its position comes days after it accused AstraZeneca of failing to guarantee the delivery of coronavirus vaccines without a valid explanation. It also expressed displeasure over vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer-BioNTech. The Pfizer vaccine is already being rolled out in the EU, and the AstraZeneca one is expected to be approved this week.

“Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tells the World Economic Forum’s virtual event in Switzerland. “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honor their obligations.”

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers in Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)

The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries like Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its health care workers and most vulnerable people. That’s despite having over 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began.

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