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Trudeau loses patience with EU – Canada warns EU to back off over vaccine supply row
February 17, 2021
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has held showdown talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to seek reassurances the bloc’s export controls will not harm his country’s supply of life-saving Covid jabs. It came after reports from Ottawa that its supply of vaccines had been hindered by the EU’s attempts to prevent manufacturers from sending doses of their coronavirus jabs outside the bloc. It was said drugmaker Moderna’s supply of materials had been hampered by the new attempts to manage vaccine exports outside to the EU.
During their phone call, Mr Trudeau stressed the importance of “timely vaccine shipments” to Mrs von der Leyen.
A statement said: “Prime Minister Trudeau and President von der Leyen discussed the ongoing efforts in Canada and the European Union to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic and to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.
“The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of timely vaccine shipments in order to meet vaccination goals, noting that Canada is expecting an increase in vaccine deliveries over the coming weeks.”
Under the Brussels scheme, vaccine manufacturers must submit export information for approval before sending Covid jabs abroad.
This enables eurocrats to stop shipments if they believe supplies are dwindling too much on the Continent.
Mr Trudeau has told reporters he believes Canada’s vaccine supply from Europe is not under threat and remains secure.
“We are on schedule to receive our single largest Pfizer vaccine shipment to date and next week we are expecting an even larger shipment again,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.
Moderna slashed deliveries to Canada this month while it struggles to fully ramp up production in Europe.
But the firm’s chairman Noubar Afeyan has promised Ottawa it will deliver 1.3 million doses of its vaccine by the end of March.
Pfizer has also announced delays to its shipments to Canada, and is now due to delivery 3.1 million doses by March 31.
This has sparked panic in Canada with its vaccine rollout desperately lagging behind the United States and Britain.
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The UK has vaccinated 23.75 percent of its population, delivering more than 16 million doses, according to the latest data.
In contrast, Canada has only administered some 1.27 million jabs, at a rate of 3.37 per 100 people.
And the United States, Ottawa’s closest neighbour, has dished out more than 55 million doses as part of its “Operation War Speed” scheme.
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Mrs von der Leyen promised not to block exports of vaccines to Canada after her talks with Mr Trudeau.
The top eurocrat said: “Canada is a cherished partner of the EU.
“We discussed vaccine supply and distribution – including our cooperation to ensure rapid and equitable access to vaccines globally.”