EU vaccine row: Irish MEP hits out at UK claiming Britain ‘obsessed with Brussels failing’

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The EU is on track to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its adult population by the end of the summer, having already handed at least one jab to 70 percent of adults in the bloc. The EU’s vaccine campaign got off to a disastrous start when compared to the UK and US. They said this was mainly due to delays in deliveries of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, against which it launched legal proceedings earlier this year.

However, after a sharp ramp-up in supplies from the second quarter, particularly of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was now among the world leaders.

Brussels and London also came to blows in the early stages of the vaccine rollout as the European Commission demanded jabs from the UK – with the bloc initially moving to trigger Article 16 – part of the Northern Ireland Protocol within the Brexit agreement – before backing down after a furious backlash.

Irish MEP, Billy Kelleher, told Express.co.uk the UK was “obsessed” with the EU failing on vaccines, and hit out at British “triumphalism”.

He said: “Unfortunately I think the UK Government has been a bit like Donald Trump – not very worried about what people think about the way it conducts itself.

“I think the triumphalism around the vaccine in the early stages of the rollout – there was this obsession in the UK hoping the EU would fail with the vaccine.

“Consistent mutterings from senior Tory figures about how they hope the EU would fail, and that seems to be the continual narrative.

“And that narrative grates on the Irish people, because the Irish people are very pro-European and want to see Europe succeed – equally we want to see the UK succeed.”

However, while the Fianna Fail Party official accepts Brussels got off to a slow start, he now believes the EU is surpassing the UK and the US on the vaccine rollout.

He continued: “There’s an acknowledgement that the EU, despite the difficulties with the vaccine at the start, has done incredibly well.

“It is now surpassing the UK, the US and many others. The EU is the only large entity in the world actually sharing vaccines with other countries. It is doing what it can with the capacity that it has.

“This has been seen in Ireland, I think we are in the top two percent in the world in terms of vaccine performance per head of population.

“That is the result of a centralised purchase system and the fact we could move vaccines from countries that weren’t using them effectively elsewhere.”

Currently, 60 percent of American adults have been fully vaccinated with 69 percent having been administered at least one dose. In the UK, these figures stand at 70.5 percent and 88.1 percent.

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Around 70 percent of adults have had at least one jab. The proportion of people aged 18 and over having been fully inoculated in the bloc now stands at 57 percent.

Shortly after Express.co.uk’s interview with Mr Kelleher, the UK announced it will give Kenya 817,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Ministers said the offer would help the nation – which has a population of around 52 million – to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with the first 400,000 doses due to be sent this week.

There have been growing concerns that supply shortages in some African countries have held back the continuing rollout of their vaccination programmes.

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