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Ursula von der Leyen issues grovelling apology over EU vaccine shambles

Ursula von der Leyen today issued a grovelling apology for the EU’s vaccine shambles, admitting the bloc acted ‘late’ and was ‘over-confident’

Ursula von der Leyen today issued a grovelling apology for the EU’s vaccine shambles, admitting the bloc acted ‘late’ and was ‘over-confident’. 

The European commission president also conceded its rollout was still not ‘where we want to be’ in a humbling speech in Brussels.

However, she defended trying to thrash out at unified approach for the 27 member states, even though she has likened it to a ‘tanker’ compared to the UK’s ‘speedboat’.

UK government figures last night showed 12,646,486 people have now received initial jabs, with another 516,392 having had their booster.  

By contrast the EU as a whole has administered fewer than 18million doses to its population of around 450million people. 

Globally there are around 4.6million jabs being given every day, with around one in 10 of those happening in the UK. 

Speaking at an EU Parliament plenary session, Ms von der Leyen said: ‘We are still not where we want to be. We were late to authorise. 

‘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.’

The EU as a whole has administered fewer than 18million doses to its population of around 450million people

The EU as a whole has administered fewer than 18million doses to its population of around 450million people

Ms  von der Leyen also said she was sorry for the confusion over the threat to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol in order to block vaccine exports – which was humiliatingly dropped.

‘The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision,’ Ms von der Leyen said.

‘And I deeply regret that. But in the end we got it right.’ 

Ms von der Leyen said she still believes that 70 per cent of the EU’s adult population can be vaccinated by the end of summer, swiping at pharmaceutical companies for not keeping pace with scientific advances.

‘Industry has to match the groundbreaking pace of science,’ Ms von der Leyen said.

‘We fully understand that difficulties will arise in the mass production of vaccines. 

‘But Europe has invested billions of euros in capacities in advance, and we urged the member states to plan the vaccine rollout. So now we all need predictability.’ 

Despite the chaos, the three groups of MEPs stuck with Ms von der Leyen’s approach of member states moving together.

‘The key decisions were right,’ Manfred Weber, leader of the Christian Democrat European People’s Party, said.

UK government figures last night showed 12,646,486 people have now received initial jabs, with another 516,392 having had their booster

UK government figures last night showed 12,646,486 people have now received initial jabs, with another 516,392 having had their booster

The Socialists and Democrats party leader Iratxe Garcia said: ‘Fiasco, catastrophe, disaster: they ring very true to our citizens.’

But she added that her party would stick with Ms von der Leyen on the bloc moving together.

‘Criticism is necessary but with a constructive spirit,’ she said.

Ms Von der Leyen’s assessment came as the bloc’s death toll passed 500,000, a statistic that fundamentally challenges the EU’s vaunted welfare standards and healthcare capabilities.

It comes as the bloc is fighting off the remnants of a second surge of Covid-19 that has kept communities from Portugal to Finland under all kinds of lockdown, curfews and restrictions as authorities race to vaccinate as many people as possible.

The last official weekly figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are expected on Thursday but Johns Hopkins University produced a daily tally showing the number stood at 500,809 on Wednesday.

By comparison, the United States, with a population of 330 million, leads the world per nation with more than 468,000 deaths.


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