Jab Well Done

Interesting that when the UK approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, EU honchos scoffed that the approval process had been rushed.

Well, they’re not scoffing now, are they?

In fact, as of this morning (28 January 2021), they had still not formally approved it.

On the commercial front, the UK signed its contract three months before the EU, who had gleefully placed their wedge on Sanofi before the old nag pulled up on the final straight.

That left the originally unfavoured – and in some European quarters initially rubbished – (sniff, UK) deal with AstraZeneca to be a flustered and panting Plan B, 3 months behind the curve. More frustratingly for the Continent, this in turn got further bogged down with typical production ricks and similar issues that the UK had also faced but had long since resolved.

And there was more.

That pesky unanimity thang had raised its ugly head once again. Reportedly, several major EU countries had wanted to press ahead with a monster AstraZeneca order in June 2020, but Beurocracy had kicked in and had pushed the decision back to late August. Probably some Luxembourgish town councillor kicking off about vial sizes, or the like.

But let us be clear: this was never primarily about logistics. The EU dropped the ball with its procurement strategy. They never got enough vaccines in the bag and waded sluggishly through the treacle of its cumbersome decision-making processes while the pragmatic world on the outside got with the programme. Furthermore, in a much-glossed-over crack, the EU commission had rebuffed the offer of 500 million Pfizer BioNtech vaccine doses as far back as July 2020 because they were too expensive.

They backed the wrong horse, took some poor decisions on cost, dragged their heels on next steps, and now find themselves at the back of the queue behind those who had got their act together, ordered first, and paid top dollar.

If European citizens are seeking to apportion blame for this fiasco, they should write to their happy-clappy MEPs.

So, what will the Euro-Dons do? Well, they are already threatening to block exports of life-saving drugs in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s not a good look. In fact, it’s downright ugly. Strangely, all the bonkers, federalist tub-thumpers are keeping religiously schtum on the dubious majesty of Brussels’ less than finest moment.

When the dust finally settles, the damage from this will not be confined to the tens of thousands of deaths that the mutant strains will now surely inflict on the unjabbed continental masses. It is now manifestly clear that the UK would not have streaked ahead with its vaccination coup if it had been hamstrung by the perpetually self-defeating Euro bureaucracy of absolute cohesion and compliance.

While the Remain/Leave debate was all about emotions and ideologies – and more than occasionally a potent and heady mixture of the two – this affair is a glaring retrospective exemplar of a Brexit rationale that is likely to appeal on scale way beyond the frothing fringes.

Now, with more than just a soupcon of irony, the EU27 are demanding that poor old third country UK makes some sacrifices to dig them out of their hole.

Good luck with that one, chaps.

All this is not in itself an endorsement of Brexit but coupled with the EU’s initial betrayal of its less affluent members during this pandemic (remember Italy and Spain), the Brussels gazillionaire class has once again come up short when it matters.

For Johnson and his gang, it has however finally been a jab well done.

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