EU vaccine blockade: World Health Organisation slaps down Von der Leyen’s new measures

Coronavirus: World Health Organisation releases statement

World Health Organization bosses warned new European Union moves to tighten rules on the export of COVID-19 shots were “not helpful,” and said restrictions mustn’t get in the way of beating the disease worldwide. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of supply-chain disruptions that could result and ripple through the world ó and potentially stalling the fight against the pandemic.

The EU Commission introduced measures to tighten rules on exports of shots produced in its 27-member countries.

The “vaccine export transparency mechanism” will be used until the end of March to control vaccine shipments to non-EU countries and to ensure that any exporting company based in the EU first submits its plans to national authorities for approval. 

European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told a Brussels press conference: “Today the commission has adopted an implementing regulation making the export of certain products subject to an export authorisation.

“This regulation concerns the transparency and export of COVID-19 vaccines.”

 

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German Health Minister Jens Spahn echoed Mr Dombrovskis and stressed it was important that European citizens should be protected first, adding: “It’s important for us that Europe is safe, that the world is safe.

“But if we want to have acceptance for this, of course we also need to vaccinate our own people. So it’s about the right balance.”

However, Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products warned there would be a big effect of restrictions like those by the EU on the global supply chain.

She added: “It’s not helpful to have any country at this stage put in export bans or barriers that will not allow for the free movement of the necessary ingredients that will make vaccines, diagnostics and other medicine available to all the world.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the Health bloc claimed the export ban “could become a lose-lose situation rather than a win for Europe situation.”

He acknowledged pressures faced by national politicians but said hoarding vaccine could lead to a “catastrophic moral failure.”

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