Britain’s Covid vaccine victory is thanks to Brexit says German MEP who blames Europe’s fiasco on ‘dead hand of EU’

BRITAIN’s vaccine success is thanks to Brexit, a German MEP has said – adding the “dead hand of the EU” is to blame for the fiasco across the rest of Europe.

It comes as data showed some snail-pace European nations will not manage to jab the majority of adults until 2023 if they continue at the current rate.

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This deserted vaccine centre in Brussles came to symbolise the EU jab fiasco last week


This deserted vaccine centre in Brussles came to symbolise the EU jab fiasco last weekCredit: AFP or licensors

UK regulators approved the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines much earlier than the equivalent EU body, the European Medicines Agency.

And EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen took control of ordering doses for the whole bloc, a decision many blame for agonising delays.

More than 20million people in the UK have had at least one dose, and minister want all adults over 18 to be offered it by July 31.

But Germany has so far jabbed only five per cent of its 84million population and in France the figure s four per cent.

Gunnar Beck, a law expert and MEP, said the roots of the problem go back to last summer when the EU was slow to secure vaccine supplies.

He wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “In theory, the European Commission could use its buying power to ensure the rapid delivery of hundreds of millions of doses at rock bottom prices.

“But that ignored the dead hand of the EU bureaucracy, which is the last thing you need in a crisis.

“Valuable weeks and months were lost amid furious horse-trading in Brussels. Many orders were not made until September which, despite its financial clout, put Europe at the back of the queue.”

German MEP Gunnar Beck said Britain was able to take advantage of 'Brexit freedoms'


German MEP Gunnar Beck said Britain was able to take advantage of ‘Brexit freedoms’Credit: Alamy
He criticised the 'dead hand of EU bureaucracy' led by Ursula von der Leyen


He criticised the ‘dead hand of EU bureaucracy’ led by Ursula von der LeyenCredit: AFP or licensors

He also slammed German chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders for sowing mistrust in the British-made AstraZeneca jab.

It has led to millions across Europe refusing to have it, leaving some vaccine centres almost empty.

Dr Gunnar wrote: “This state of affairs has nothing to do with the actual merit of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab – or even the virtues of the vaccination programme itself as a treatment for coronavirus – and everything to do with the political posturing of the EU elite as it tries to cover up its failures by pointing the finger of blame elsewhere.

“While Britain used its Brexit freedoms to obtain a range of different vaccines and organise a national roll-out, the EU went into its default mode of mutual back scratching, bickering and failure.”

Last week a photo of a deserted vaccine centre at Brussels airport came to symbolise the chaos in the EU.

And Germany’s biggest selling paper Bild admitted Britain’s vaccine success is the envy of Europe in a front-page banner slating EU failures.

The country has more than a million doses of AstraZeneca sitting in cold storage after patients declined to have a jab.

Even Mrs Merkel, a former scientist, has said she would not have it as she is too old at 66.

Germany controversially ruled it should not be given to over-65s, even though the EMA ruled it can be used for all age groups.

The government has now been urged to reverse that policy as the national vaccine authority admitted its earlier assessment was wrong.

German newspaper Bild last moth praised the UK's vaccine success with the headline 'Dear Brits, we envy you!'
German newspaper Bild last moth praised the UK’s vaccine success with the headline ‘Dear Brits, we envy you!’
Angela Merkel is facing a mutiny among German states over her handling of the crisis
Angela Merkel is facing a mutiny among German states over her handling of the crisis

Thomas Mertens, head of the Standing Committee on Vaccination, promised “a new, updated recommendation very soon”.

He added: “Somehow the whole thing went very badly”.

He said the commission believed the AstraZeneca jab was “very good” and their assessment of it was “now even better with the addition of the new data”.  

A group of German scientists also urged the government to follow Britain and delay the second dose, calculating it would save 15,000 lives.

EU authorities had previously attacked the British approach as “reckless”.

A total of 11 of the 27 EU states including Spain, France and Belgium refused to recommend the AstraZeneca jab for the elderly because phase three trials did not include many volunteers over 65.

Real-world data from Scotland shows it is 94 per cent effective at preventing Covid illness in all age groups.

Austria has already reversed its policy, and France indicated it would too.

On Thursday President Emmanuel Macron said he would gladly take it weeks after he falsely claimed it was “quasi-ineffective”.

But it emerged this week that four out of five AstraZeneca doses delivered to EU countries remain unused.

Separate data laid bare the slow pace of vaccination across the Continent.

Politico’s live vaccine tracker shows the UK is on course to vaccinate 96 per cent of adults by the end of summer at the current rate.

The best performing EU nation, Malta, will have done only 62 per cent of its tiny polulation.

France and Germany will struggle to vaccinate more than 28 per cent of adults and Belgium will have done 20 per cent by September.

And if vaccines are not dished out faster, France and Germany will not have reached a target of jabbing 70 per cent of adults until November 2022, and some countries will be months behind that.

In January Mrs von der Leyen imposed an EU export ban on vaccines as part of a war with drug companies she accused of withholding doses.

Meanwhile Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron are facing mutinies at home as rising infections could lead to lockdowns lasting months more.

Here, Boris Johnson has said virtually all restrictions will be lifted in England by June 21.

France and Merkel beg citizens to take Oxford jab after millions of doses remain unused


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