Canada hit by EU’s vaccine export ban – even though it is supposed to be exempt

Canada has become a victim of the EU’s draconian measures to squeeze Covid vaccine exports as the bloc continues to panic over its disastrous vaccine roll-out.

Imports into Canada of the Moderna vaccine are down by a third, from 250,000 doses to less than 170,000. Meanwhile, Canada continues to struggle with the Pfizer BioNTech jab. European production has slowed down ever since Pfizer began refitting its Belgian plant. Pfizer’s EU shortages originally sparked the ugly spat between the bloc and the UK over the Oxford vaccine.

But Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is presiding over an even more troubled vaccine programme than the one that has had Eurocrats tearing their hair out.

The Commonwealth nation is only inoculating 3.1 people out of every hundred, compared to 4.2 in the EU and 20 in Britain.

Unlike Britain, Canada is exempted from the EU’s vaccine export blacklist, but the crisis in European supply chains has still affected exports. A Canadian government source told the Toronto Star Moderna was struggling to meet its supply commitments because EU controls have squeezed access to vaccine-related materials, suggesting the export ban is harming not only trade partners like Canada, but the EU itself.

Moderna consignments are dispatched every three weeks, the Canadian government admits it does not know how many doses the next shipment on 22 February will contain.

Canada’s reliance on EU imports of Covid vaccine stems from neighboring United States’ export ban.

The Canadian government should “pick [up] the phone and call Joe Biden,” said German MEP Peter Liese.

“Trump made the export ban, and Biden is not Trump. Biden wants co-operation and we need co-operation,” added Liese, apparently failing to appreciate the EU is no better with its supply-disrupting controls over exports.

Earlier this week, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is widely viewed as most to blame for the jab debacle admitted, “mistakes were made”, without volunteering to take personal responsibility.  

Von der Leyen made the stunning claim that member states have benefitted from handing over vaccine procurement to the European Commission which has no experience in mobilising emergency programmes that bring together resources like the armed forces as well as healthcare systems in partnership with private sector organisations that develop and manufacture vaccines.

“I cannot even imagine what would have happened if just a handful of big players, big member states had rushed to it and everybody else would have been left empty-handed,” said von der Leyen.

“It would have been, I think the end of our community.”

And has been a big blow to relations with Canada too no doubt.