European Union industry commissioner Thierry Breton was put in charge of a new vaccine production task force on Thursday after the EU executive came under fire over delays with deliveries of vaccines against the coronavirus.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
Breton, a former French finance minister, will head the new task force in cooperation with EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, to identify and eliminate bottlenecks in vaccine production plants and adjust output to new variants.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
The European Commission has come under fierce criticism from EU member states over delays in the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, which has badly lagged behind countries like Britain, a former EU member, and the United States.
An announcement by AstraZeneca that it would cut its supply of vaccines to the EU until March by 60 percent due to production problems particularly infuriated member states.
Although France has publicly defended the decision to entrust the Commission with negotiating vaccine contracts, President Emmanuel Macron has been “driven mad” by the “slowness and lack of imagination” of EU institutions on vaccines, a diplomatic source told Reuters.
Breton, a close Macron ally, attended two vaccine summits earlier this week, one hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday and the other by Macron on Tuesday, in a sign Europe’s two most powerful leaders want to focus minds in Brussels.
“I don’t want to blame companies too much. It’s a pretty complex process,” Breton told a small group of reporters. “But what I told them is: I need to be informed immediately (of any production issue). I need transparency. Don’t wait too long.”
However, Breton said cooperation between pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccine developed by rivals, following the model of Sanofi producing Pfizer vaccines, will be done on a voluntary basis, and that there was no plan to force firms to share licenses with competitors to scale up vaccine output.
Delay in vaccinations could cost EU economy $108 bln, says studyThe European Union faces a potential 90 billion euro ($108.19 billion) hit to its economy this year unless it catches up with the pace of ... Coronavirus
EU seeks to boost credibility despite slow vaccine rolloutThe European Union on Monday defended its flagging coronavirus vaccine program, which has come under criticism from the World Health Organization, EU ... Coronavirus
EU toughens rules on entry for non-EU visitors to contain new coronavirus infectionsThe European Union tightened its rules for visitors from outside the bloc on Monday, specifying that they would only be allowed in freely from ... Coronavirus
Philippines’ Duterte accuses EU of holding coronavirus vaccines hostagePhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused the European Union of holding up supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries and ... Coronavirus