Britain may beat Europe on vaccines, but we’re all in this together

Editorial: This is no time to be smug, the continent’s problems should be of deep concern to us all. No one is safe until everyone is safe

Tuesday 02 February 2021 21:30
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eputy heads will roll,” as the old saying goes, but the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has the dubious distinction of making it fresh. Besieged by critics of her vaccine programme, she has blamed vice president Valdis Dombrovskis for the fiasco.

She may be right, of course, and the hapless Latvian may indeed be responsible for the recent public health and diplomatic disasters, but it seems ignoble for Von der Leyen to dump on him in this way. Collective responsibility surely applies to the EU commissioners, and there is absolutely no need, beyond saving her skin, why Von der Leyen should further politicise the vaccine challenge. It is far too important to be embroiled in office politics and the EU’s disputes with AstraZeneca should be treated for what they are: a prosaic, if crucial, matter of commercial law.

The recent interventions by France’s Emmanuel Macron also need to be doused down. Claiming the AstraZeneca vaccine is “quasi ineffective” for older patients makes no sense in its own terms and, insofar as any meaning can be attached to it, is plain wrong. This is no way to run a vaccine rollout.

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