Barnier finally admits UK vaccine scheme faster than EU – with subtle dig at Von der Leyen

Emmanuel Macron discusses the vaccine rollout in France

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But the Frenchman, who stepped down officially from his role yesterday, claimed the fight against coronavirus would take more than a speedy vaccination scheme. He said world leaders would have to learn lessons if they are to successfully take on future pandemics. Mr Barnier said: “It is true that the UK has a quicker vaccination rate compared to the EU.

“But the fight against COVID-19 is more than speed of vaccination, important as that is.

“We need to draw lessons very soon on the economic policies for recovery.

“On restricting civil liberties for the sake of fighting a pandemic.

“On how to get going again with our daily lives and priorities for the future.”

In justifying the EU’s snail-paced scheme, Mr Barnier claimed there should be no competition between nations when tackling the health crisis.

“We will all find strong and weaker points in how we managed this,” the departing Brussels diplomat said.

“But there is no place, in such a serious situation, for polemics and competition.”

He was delivering the annual “Churchill Symposium” lecture at the University of Zurich.

But his remarks could also be seen as a dig at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has threatened to blockade shipments of Covid jabs to countries with better vaccination rates than the EU.

British officials are currently locked in talks with their European counterparts to strike a “win-win” agreement on vaccine cooperation.

Even while the negotiations are ongoing, top eurocrats have threatened to cut-off any shipments of AstraZeneca to the UK.

According to the latest information published by the Our World In Data website, more than 45 percent of Britain’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus immunisation.

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In contrast, the EU has only managed to deliver at least one jab to just 11.39 percent of its total population.

Germany, the bloc’s largest nation, is lagging behind the EU average, with a rate of 11.18 percent.

Whereas France is slightly ahead with just 11.75 percent having received a first dose.

Experts often say Britain is racing ahead because it has prioritised delivering first doses to as many adults possible to build up a degree of immunity, and has delayed the time between second shot.

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Most Europe countries have opted to deliver second doses within a one-month timeframe, compared to the 90-day gap in the UK.

But still, Britain’s vaccine scheme has managed to deliver almost 35 million vaccinations.

In comparison, the EU – which has a population seven-times larger, has administer just 70 million jabs since its rollout started late last year.

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