COVID-19 is still rampant in the European Union, and now with the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine being suspended due to health complications and reports of deaths after taking the shot, vaccine supply is not meeting huge demands.
On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, explained that they plan to prioritize EU citizens, leaving Britain out of the plans. The situation is the latest in the souring ties between the EU and Britain since Brexit.
Leyen said that the plan for reciprocity in vaccine trade is dependent on the level of openness from other countries. Britain is a vaccine-producing country, which leads the EU to expect more vaccine export shipments.
The threat of a third wave of the pandemic could jeopardize summer travel plans for EU citizens. Leyen said that the epidemiological situation is worsening and believes that the vaccination rates need to improve.
Vaccinations in the EU are not up to par with UK and US rates, and as Leyen said in her statement, “we are in the crisis of the century”, the EU needs to prioritize domestic needs.
Due to this lag in domestic vaccinations, the EU plans to re-evaluate vaccine trade agreements with Britain, the EU is making appropriate adjustments to exporting vaccines to countries with higher vaccination rates than the EU.
The pressure is on for the EU to address the needs of 450 million EU citizens. The crisis is further worsened by inconsistent messaging around travel for vaccinated individuals, vaccine skepticism, and new variants further accelerating the lethal spread of the virus.