The UK and the EU are still embroiled in a bitter dispute over a shortfall of vaccines across Europe. The UK has raced ahead with a successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout that has significantly reduced cases and deaths while the EU has had a sluggish campaigh so far as a third wave of the virus sends case numbers soaring. AstraZeneca has been at the center of the argument over its failure to meet its contractual obligations to the EU and the company said it would only manage to ship 100 million doses to the bloc in the first half of the year rather than 300 million due to production problems and export controls.
That has resulted in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatening to halt exports of EU-manufactured jabs to the UK unless those shipments are reciprocated and the threat reportedly has the backing of Germany, France, Italy and Denmark. Politicians are set to attempt to diffuse tensions this week with an EU official stating that AstraZeneca is to blame, rather than the EU and the UK. One possible solution to the problem could involve sharing Covid-19 vaccines that are being produced at a plant in Leiden in the Netherlands with Boris Johnson urging international cooperation amid fears the third wave will eventually strike the UK.
The majority of the EU's Covid-19 vaccines exports have gone to the UK which has accounted for 9.1 million doses compared to second-placed Canada's 3.9 million. As slow as the EU's rollout has been, there is hope on the horizon with supply levels set to soar over the coming weeks and months. European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton was interviewed on French television where he shared some information regarding the EU's vaccine supply goals.
An analysis of his comments on Twitter by Nicolas Berrod and Jacob F. Kirkegaard shows that the EU, Norway and Iceland received 14 million doses in January, 28 million in February and 60 million in March. The pace is set to accelerate with more than 100 million doses due every single month from April to September with the 500 million landmark of cumulative shipments set to be surpassed in July.
That would be a gamechanger in the EU's drive to achieve herd immunity with 800 million deliveries expected by September. The EU expects to have enough supplies to fully vaccinate 70 percent of people aged 18 of over (519 million adults) in July. All people aged 18 and over should receive both jabs by September.