The European Union’s attempts to rescue its disastrous vaccine strategy have taken another farcical turn following a botched raid at a bottling facility in Rome. It was discovered doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine stored there were not being transported to Britain as expected, forcing the EU to backpedal, having announced earlier that the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker had been caught red-handed trying to slip jabs out of the country to the UK. It turned out, most of stocks were destined for other parts of Europe, 16 million in total.
The remaining 13 million of the 29 million stockpile of injections were scheduled for distribution across the developing world under the COVAX programme, which the EU never tires of saying it contributes to, even though it can barely inoculate 10% of its own population.
The Telegraph reports the abortive seizure at the Agnani plant in Rome’s Lazio port district is yet another attempt by the EU to disinform the public about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The jab, developed with the help of the UK taxpayer at Oxford University has been hounded by EU politicians (but very few scientists) with grossly exaggerated and sometimes plain incorrect defamatory claims, first that it does not work on people aged more than 65 and then that it causes blood clots.
This morning’s media reported the doses stored at “fill and finish” plant in Italy were bound for Britain.
AstraZeneca quickly responded with a statement explaining “there are 13 million doses of vaccine waiting for quality control release to be dispatched to COVAX as part of our commitment to supply millions of doses to low income countries.
“The vaccine was made outside the EU and brought to the Agnani plant to be filled into vials.”
The spokesperson added, “There are another 16 million doses waiting for quality control release to be dispatched to Europe,” and confirmed Britain was not among them. UK sources insisted no shipments were expected from Italy and EU officials admitted many of the doses were bound for developing countries.
The Italian government later said some doses were scheduled to go to Belgium. The decion to raid the Agnani facility stemmed from an EU Commissioner who had suspected something might be afoot there.
No doubt the unnamed Eurocrat was trying to please their boss, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who has become obsessed with redressing what she sees as an imbalance between vaccine importers and exporters, blaming countries like Britain for consuming the EU’s output and not sending anything over to the Continent in return.
The fact that supply chains are integrated across borders, including Britain’s, home of a world-leading biochemicals industry seems to have escaped von der Leyen’s attention. And to her and the EU’s shame, it turned out none of the jabs seized in Rome were even made in the EU.
On Sunday, the EU issued its first export ban against the UK, seizing supplies at the Halix biochemicals facility in Leiden, the Netherlands. The doses were earmarked to supplement Britain’s world-beating vaccine roll-out in case of shortages. It later emerged that the jabs could not be incorporated into the EU’s stocks anyway as the bloc’s famously slow medicines agency has not yet approved them.
If it was ever needed, events today are proof Brexit Britain is the EU’s number one target as it desperately tries to bulk up vaccine supplies – even though they are in surplus due to widespread vaccine hesitancy, stoked by European leaders – and inoculate more citizens as the bloc enters a terrifying third wave of Covid infections and fatalities.
The EU’s draft proposal for a vaccine export ban was leaked today. It targets countries seen to be withholding vaccine, which the UK is accused of doing even though there is no formal embargo like the United States’.
Even more shockingly, Brussels wants powers to block exports of vaccine shipments headed for countries where the “current epidemiological situation is less serious”. UK Daily covid deaths are in the double digits, compared to 300 plus in France, and could easily fall into this category.
EU leaders are due to vote on the proposal described as a “retrograde step” by the Irish Taoiseach at a summit on Thursday. France and Germany are reported to be right behind it.