The same story holds all over the world: No one is safe until everyone is safe. In a way, it doesn’t matter if it is in Chad or in Bulgaria. — Guntram Wolff, the head of Bruegel, a Brussels-based research institution
The same story holds all over the world: No one is safe until everyone is safe. In a way, it doesn’t matter if it is in Chad or in Bulgaria. — Guntram Wolff, the head of Bruegel, a Brussels-based research institution
Basking in Vaccine Success, E.U. Promises to Donate More Covid Shots
As Europeans try to lock in gains made by inoculation campaigns, the European Union on Wednesday pledged to reinforce its preparedness for future health crises and to increase coronavirus vaccine donations to low- and middle-income countries.

In her annual speech on the state of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the bloc’s executive arm, the European Commission, lauded the success in vaccinating its citizens after a shaky start. But she called global vaccinations the bloc’s most urgent priority, warning that wide discrepancies between rich and developing nations could lead to a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“With less than 1 percent of global doses administered in low-income countries, the scale of injustice and the level of urgency are obvious,” Ms. von der Leyen said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on Wednesday.

In a wide-ranging speech, Ms. von der Leyen addressed issues including the climate emergency, the crisis in Afghanistan, economic recovery and technological competition, praising the European Union’s successes during the pandemic while acknowledging its inconsistencies and imperfections.

Ms. von der Leyen’s confident tone, switching between English, French and German, was a sharp contrast with her speech last year, when new Covid-19 cases were ravaging the bloc and vaccines were months away.

“Last year, she was in a crisis mode,” said Camino Mortera-MartΓ­nez, a senior research fellow at the Center for European Reform, a think tank in Brussels. “This year, she said we need to look forward.”

... “This commission has been clear that Europe should defend its values, but more looking outward than inward, which I find problematic,” said Sophie Pornschlegel, a policy analyst with the Brussels-based European Policy Center. “That can come across as hypocritical.”

And even on vaccines, E.U. nations have so far fallen short on their promises to help inoculate poorer nations. Although Ms. von der Leyen pledged to deliver an extra 200 million doses by mid-2022, in addition to 250 million doses already promised by the end of the year, the bloc’s countries had only donated 21 million doses as of early September, according to Commission figures.

The bloc has instead focused on exporting vaccines — around 700 million — at a time when most nations that produced shots were hoarding them. Yet most of those doses have been sent to richer nations, such as Britain, Japan and South Korea.

“The gap between the E.U.’s beautiful rhetoric about stopping the Covid-19 pandemic and its actions is embarrassingly wide,” said Dr. Christos Christou, international president of Doctors Without Borders.

Guntram Wolff, the head of Bruegel, a Brussels-based research institution, said that despite good intentions, there were significant logistical challenges involved in getting doses into arms in poorer countries.

“The same story holds all over the world: No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said. “In a way, it doesn’t matter if it is in Chad or in Bulgaria.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/world/europe/ursula-von-der-leyen-eu-speech.html