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EU leaders have faced waves of infections and vaccine problems

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BRUSSELS (AP) – EU leaders are meeting on Thursday to find ways to boost COVID-19 vaccines in the 27-nation region amid doses of doses, increases in new cases and “internal disputes” with the United Kingdom.

The coronavirus epidemic once again prevented leaders from meeting in person, reflecting the poor epidemiological situation in the EU. The spread of more contagious versions of the virus has reached hospitals in some countries. Հետ With the lack of vaccines in Europe, a number of EU members have pushed for tougher blockades during Easter.

Less than 5% of the 450 million people in the EU are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Ahead of Thursday’s summit, the bloc’s executive body proposed tightening controls on coronavirus exports.

Even if the move is detrimental to non-EU countries, the European Commission aims to force vaccine manufacturers, especially AstraZeneca, to transfer the doses agreed in their contracts. The Commission also wants to ensure that the principle of export reciprocity is applied to countries producing vaccines or their raw materials.

The mechanism was divisive, according to various European diplomats who spoke before the summit. While some countries see it as a last resort tool that should not tarnish the EU’s reputation as an open trade bloc, others say it is a possible tool for doses and vaccine components to reach an alliance.

“Some countries refuse to export. “So we have to introduce reciprocity standards if we want to maintain our vaccination target in the summer,” said one diplomat, noting that the EU aims to vaccinate 70% of the adult population that season.

Tighter export controls could affect Britain, whose swift vaccination has been the envy of many European countries since it officially left the EU. Recent data show that 45% of Britons have been vaccinated with at least one vaccine, compared with less than 14% in the EU.

EU contract disputes with British-Swedish company AstraZeneca have deepened Brexit tensions. However, the EU – the UK – promised to expand cooperation this week to work together to tackle Europe ‘s third wave of infections.

EU officials have said that trade with the United States should not affect the mechanism. US President Biden has been invited to attend a virtual EU summit.

EU leaders must also settle the dispute after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz criticized the distribution of vaccines, saying some countries were receiving more than their fair share. Austria. The six-nation coalition is leading the way, demanding a correction mechanism.

According to the joint procurement set by the European Commission, the quotas are distributed proportionally, but the Member States are free to place orders directly from the manufacturer of their choice. Some countries use their relative base less.

Most EU members think the system works well, saying Austria made a mistake by focusing on AstraZeneca staff instead of diversifying its portfolio. To help the most struggling countries, member states are exploring ways to effectively use the 10 million additional doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which became available to the bloc in the second quarter.

“But the amendment will not apply to all member states, only to those who really need solidarity,” the diplomat said.

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