The European Commission president has defended Brussels’ decision to lead a collective, EU-wide approach to vaccine procurement and deployment but admits the body had been overly optimistic and too slow to authorize the jabs.
“We are not where we wanted to be,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen conceded on Wednesday as she faced lawmakers in the European parliament.
“We were late to authorize… We were too optimistic when it came to massive production, and perhaps too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time. We need to ask ourselves why that is the case.”
Amid mounting criticism of the bloc’s slow deployment of vaccines, von der Leyen said she was confident that the collective approach to inoculations was the correct one as it meant no country went “empty-handed.”
“I can’t even imagine if a few big players had rushed to it and the others went empty-handed… In economic terms it would have been nonsense and it would have been I think the end of our community,” she stated.
Von der Leyen added that she “deeply regretted” the EU’s short-lived decision to introduce export checks on goods entering Northern Ireland in a bid to prevent vaccines leaving the bloc.
The EU boss said that 26 million doses had been delivered so far to the bloc’s 27 member countries and promised that 70 percent of adults would be inoculated against Covid-19 by the end of summer.
To date, EU member states have only vaccinated four percent of their collective populations amid supply challenges, slow approval and late orders. The bloc lags behind many developed nations, with 66 percent of Israelis receiving the jab already and nearly 20 percent in the UK.
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