While the European Union fiddles with vaccines, officials in Brussels look for villains. They think they found one in vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca.
Instead of letting countries negotiate their own vaccination contracts, the European Commission has handled procurement for the entire bloc in the name of solidarity. Brussels botched the process and now the union members are sticking together.
Europe, the US, and the UK have orders or options for roughly the same number of cans per capita. However, the US and UK moved faster to get deals, which made it easier for drug companies to prepare. According to British analyst Airfinity, Washington and London spent about seven times as much on development, production and procurement per person. Some US states, like many European countries, are facing distribution problems, but US and UK regulators have approved vaccines faster than their EU counterparts.
The results are already clear. By our Thursday deadline, the UK had canned more than 11% of its residents while the US was approaching 8%. Denmark was a European success story at 3.7%, while France and Sweden fell 2%.
This has not given much food for thought in Brussels. EU mandarins issued a warning this week to AstraZeneca after the company announced production issues at a European facility would result in tens of million fewer doses being dispensed this quarter than expected. The European Commission ordered a raid on AstraZeneca’s production site in Belgium on Wednesday.