The president of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, acknowledged on Wednesday that Brussels was “too optimistic” regarding the number of vaccines that pharmaceutical companies could deliver to the Twenty-seven. We have been too optimistic about the production capacity and perhaps we were too sure that what we had ordered and paid for was going to be delivered to us on time,” Von der Leyen said in a debate in the European Parliament (EP) on the strategy of vaccination in the EU.

Globally, we have underestimated the difficulties of mass production,” he added. His statements come after AstraZeneca’s announcement that it will only distribute 40 million doses in the first quarter – half of what was announced – and after setbacks with the number of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech, already corrected. According to Von der Leyen, since the beginning of the year, 26 million doses have been distributed in the European Union (EU) and more than 17 million people have been vaccinated, although he assured that we still have a lot to work to achieve our goal” of vaccinating 70% of the population at the end of the summer.

However, the president of the EC defended the strategy of having vaccinated on behalf of the EU countries, It was the right thing to do that we, as Europeans, have jointly ordered the vaccines and that we have shown of solidarity. And he assured that “it would have been the end of our community” that “the largest member states would have guaranteed their distribution of the vaccines and would have left the others in the gutter.

The president of the Community Executive explained that “one of the bottlenecks has to do with only 2 synthetic molecules” and that “if we had only 250 grams more of these molecules we could produce 1 million more vaccines”, according to the information transmitted by the pharmaceutical companies to Brussels. I DEEPLY REGRET IT
Von der Leyen also acknowledged that “mistakes have been made” in the elaboration of the mechanism for prior authorization for the export of vaccines outside the EU, which put the Good Friday Agreement in jeopardy by having foreseen, at first, the possibility of establishing controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

I am deeply sorry,” said Von der Leyen. After the intervention of Von der Leyen, the leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, supported the Brussels vaccination strategy because “the key decisions were correct”, despite the fact that “the EU has also made mistakes.” From the social democratic group, its leader, Iratxe García, asked for calm before the delay in the distribution of vaccines: “Let’s see the situation without agitation”, he said, although he demanded “to know what has happened”, due to the delays they have generated ” disappointment and distrust.

The leader of the Greens, Ska Keller, also influenced this idea, asking for “full transparency” with the contracts, since those that have been published until today – Curevac, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and GSK – do not include data such as the price that has paid the EC and the schedule of distribution of doses. More critical was the MEP of the European Left, Manon Aubry, who told Von der Leyen that she has the “feeling that the leaders of the pharmaceutical companies have made the law, instead of you”.