With parts of Europe back in lockdown, the president of the European Parliament on Thursday (March 25) said the EU should not waste coronavirus vaccines as leaders met for a virtual summit to discuss how to boost supplies.
“We’re going through very particular times. So many countries are shutting down again, they’re going back to the dark days of lockdown, the pandemic is far from over,” David Sassoli told a news conference as a summit of EU leaders got underway.
Distribution of shots is uneven across the bloc, and member states are divided over whether to take a tougher line on vaccine exports, frustrated at inoculation programmes that are running far behind those of Britain and the United States.
The EU’s executive unveiled plans on Wednesday (March 24) to tighten oversight of vaccine exports that would allow greater scope to block shipments to countries with higher inoculation rates.
“There has to be proportionality and reciprocity. That’s why I’m convinced that the Commission’s proposals go in precisely that direction. We cannot afford to waste a single vaccine or to transfer vaccines to countries that do not need them,” Sassoli said.
Brussels and London sought to cool tensions on Wednesday, declaring in a joint statement that they were working “to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens”.