Ursula von der Leyen (File photo)
Ursula von der Leyen (File photo)

Europe was too late to approve COVID-19 vaccines, too optimistic on mass production: EU Commission president

ANI | Updated: Feb 10, 2021 18:44 IST


Brussels [Belgium], February 10 (ANI): President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that Europe was late to authorise COVID-19 vaccines and too optimistic on mass production.
According to CNN, von der Leyen made these remarks during a debate on the bloc's vaccination strategy.
"Today in the fight against the virus we're still not where we want to be. We were late to authorize. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production, and perhaps we were too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time," von der Leyen told the European Parliament as quoted by CNN.
She said that She said the EU needs to examine why this is the case and learn lessons from the experience. However, she stood firm on the EU's decision to order vaccines "in solidarity" collectively, saying "it was the right thing to do".
"I cannot even imagine what would have happened if just a handful of big players, big member states had rushed to it, then everybody else would have been left empty-handed," Von der Leyen said.
According to Sputnik, for weeks, EU nations have been facing delays in Pfizer/BioNTech i AstraZeneca vaccine supplies as the manufacturers are scrambling to reorganize production to meet global demand.
"What would that have meant for our internal market and for the unity of Europe. In economic terms, it would have been nonsense, and it would have been I think the end of our community," she added.

On the time frames for authorizing vaccines, von der Leyen said that the Union made a choice "to not take any shortcuts when it comes to safety or efficacy and we fully defend that choice."
"There is no compromise possible when it's a matter of injecting a biologically active substance into an individual who is in good health. This is why we rely on the EMA, the European Medicines Agency's procedure, and yes, that means that approval takes three to four additional weeks. That additional time is an essential investment to establish confidence, and to ensure security, and yes there are lessons to be learned from this, and we have already learned a great deal," the European Commission president said further.
CNN reported that Von der Leyen has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks over the EU's spat with the United Kingdom over vaccines.
After Brussels got jittery that its vaccination program was lagging behind, the Commission proposed placing export controls on vaccine manufacturers, meaning the EU could monitor -- and potentially prevent -- vaccines leaving the bloc (EU).
The Commission said that those controls could be applied to vaccines going from the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU) into Northern Ireland (part of the UK) -- by triggering article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.
Von der Leyen said Wednesday "mistakes were made" in the process "but, in the end, we got it right. And I can reassure you that my Commission will do its utmost to protect the peace of Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process."
Portugal's Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, said at the parliamentary debate that "the truth is that companies may have overestimated their production capacities."
According to CNN, Portugal's Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, said at the parliamentary debate that "the truth is that companies may have overestimated their production capacities."
She said the Commission's export authorization mechanism for Covid-19 vaccines "will allow us to understand where the vaccines produced in EU are being distributed. In both cases, transparency is paramount to increase citizens' trust in this process." (ANI)

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