EU Vaccine Exports Outstrip Number of Shots Given Its Own People

The European Union continues to export more vaccines than it administers, in data highlighting the risk of a backlash against the bloc’s governments amid setbacks that keep threatening to delay its own rollout.

The EU authorized the export of 113.5 million doses to 43 countries between Jan. 31 and April 13, according to a memo circulated to government envoys in Brussels on Wednesday and seen by Bloomberg News. Around 39.2 million doses were shipped to Japan, 15.2 million to the U.K. and 11.7 million to Canada, according to the document.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier on Wednesday that the EU’s 27 governments have now administered 100 million shots.

EU Vaccine Exports Outstrip Number of Shots Given Its Own People

The EU’s own campaign has already faced multiple hurdles, most recently on Tuesday when Johnson & Johnson said it would delay its European vaccine rollout as U.S. regulators review rare cases of blood clots in the brain. The news followed the introduction of restrictions in the use of AstraZeneca Plc.’s vaccine in several EU member states over similar concerns.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the bloc is still working toward its goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by the end of the summer, while acknowledging speeding up deliveries will be key. News that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE will boost shipments of their shot by 25% to 250 million doses this quarter may help make up for the setback from the J&J pause and failures by AstraZeneca to deliver the doses it had promised.

Faced with citizens increasingly exasperated by months in lockdowns, the EU requires that companies seek permission before exporting vaccines from facilities in the bloc. It has said it won’t allow shipments of the AstraZeneca shot until the drugmaker fulfills its commitments, provoking a backlash from allies such as Australia.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan will travel for face-to-face talks with ministerial counterparts in Germany, France and Brussels from Thursday to address “the supply of EU-produced Covid-19 vaccines that Australia has contracted and how we can work with the EU to enhance the global supply of vaccines.”

According to the memo, 11 export requests from the EU are “pending” as of April 13, compared to just two in a similar briefing note circulated on April 6. Still, the comparison shows that 33.4 million shots have been exported from the EU in the week between April 6 and April 13 alone.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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