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HEALTH

EU toughens rules for vaccine exports to avoid shortfalls

The European Union tightened its vaccine export control mechanism on Wednesday to prevent what it sees as an unfair one-way flow of vaccines out of the bloc.

EU toughens rules for vaccine exports to avoid shortfalls
EU commissioner for internal market and consumer protection, industry, research and energy Thierry Breton, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and EU commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, give a press conference following a college meeting to introduce draft legislation on a common EU Covid-19 vaccination certificate at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 17, 2021. JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

The measure could limit vaccine exports to countries like the UK, which produce some of their own vaccines but do not in turn send doses to the EU.

The EU Commission stated: “We are introducing reciprocity and proportionality as additional criteria to be examined before authorising exports under the EU’s authorisation mechanism for Covid-19 vaccine exports. This will ensure that the EU is able to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by the end of summer.

“We will consider: Reciprocity: whether the destination country restricts its own exports of vaccines or their raw materials, either by law or other means and Proportionality: the epidemiological situation in the destination country, its vaccination rate and vaccine stocks,” the statement published on Twitter read.

“This implementing act is targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary. It is fully consistent with the EU’s international commitment under the World Trade Organization and the G20. We will continue to exclude from this scheme vaccines for humanitarian aid or under COVAX.”

Officials have said they don’t expect the changes to trigger mass export bans of vaccines produced in the EU.

In recent days EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly threatened to block the export of vaccines produced in the EU. The threat has been backed by the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel but sparked alarm in the UK, which has imported large numbers of vaccine doses from the EU.

“Europe has taken every step to act fairly and responsibly, mindful of our global leadership role, since the start of the pandemic. The EU remains biggest global exporter of vaccines,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said.

Europe’s battle to prevent a deadly third wave of infections has been complicated by a patchy vaccine drive that included several nations temporarily halting AstraZeneca’s shots in response to isolated cases of blood clots.

Most have since resumed using the vaccine after the European Medicines Agency found it “safe and effective”.

But AstraZeneca has delivered only 30 percent of the 90 million doses it promised the EU for the first quarter.

Member comments

  1. Since the EU has millions of unused doses, the suspicion must be that this action is more about slowing down the UK than speeding up Europe.

    1. Perhaps there is an element of that at some levels but the facts remain that 10million doses have travelled into the UK from EU based sites and none in the other direction. The EU has also been shorted by tens of millions of doses by various manufacturers. It is a shame it is coming to this but it is not unexpected. I think if i’d been calling the shots i wouldn’t have waited to long to take action but that is the EU way, slow and steady(most of the time). We have seen great scientific and business co-operation during the pandemic but incredibly clunky political co-operation. There have been major faults on both sides. Needless to say only 3 months after getting Brexit done, Boris’s government will soon need the EU and the EU the UK. Our economies and people are too interlinked to not have mass vaccination of our population as a priority for both sides. And as a side note i really hope that the sausage situation is sorted soon, I do miss my Lincolnshire and Cumberland sausages from M&S

  2. I think this is both political and the EU trying to deflect blame for the atrocious approach to getting the vaccine and distribution within the EU. They ordered late, it still hadn’t been approved by the EU medicine authority and they were haggling over the price? The vaccines are virtually made to order because of shelf life. Why did they imagine they would start getting them immediately ? Also, none of the other producers of the vaccine have fulfilled their orders but the EU isn’t making a song and dance about them – makes you wonder.

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HEALTH

Sweden records world’s first case of bird flu in a porpoise

A porpoise found stranded on a Swedish beach in June died of bird flu, the first time the virus has been detected in one of the marine mammals, Sweden's National Veterinary Institute said on Wednesday.

Sweden records world's first case of bird flu in a porpoise

“As far as we know this is the first confirmed case in the world of bird flu in a porpoise,” veterinarian Elina Thorsson said in a statement. “It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds,” she said.

The young male was found stranded, alive, on a beach in western Sweden in late June. Despite efforts from the public to get it to swim out to deeper
waters, it was suffering from exhaustion and died the same evening.

The bird flu virus, H5N1, was found in several of its organs. “Contrary to seals, where illnesses caused by a flu virus have been detected multiple times, there have been only a handful of reports of flu virus in cetaceans”, Thorsson said.

The virus has also previously been detected in other mammals, including red foxes, otters, lynx and skunks, the institute said.

Europe and North America are currently seeing a vast outbreak of bird flu among wild birds.

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