I keep seeing the line 'EU is having vaccine problems because it was too slow in negotiating contracts' repeated in 🇬🇧&🇺🇸 media.

I want to push back on this narrative because I think it's missing where real EU-level mistakes lie. Let's review what happened in past year (🧵1/17)
AstraZeneca signed purchasing agreement with EU one day before its agreement with UK.

AZ CEO told an EP hearing last month that UK priority comes from research funding agreement Oxford signed with UK gov in Jan/Feb 2020, inherited by AZ when it partnered with Oxford in May 2020.
🇬🇧 was smart to start funding vax research before #Covid19 even hit Europe. But they made a consequential choice by (apparently) making funding conditional to Brits getting doses of any resulting vaccine 1st.

🇩🇪 funded BioNTech but did not include any Europe 1st clause.
Meanwhile in March 2020, President Trump tried unsuccessfully to steal BioNTech from Germany to bring it to the US.

Despite this warning, apparently nobody in EU thought it might be a bad idea for BioNTech to be partnered with Pfizer, an American company.
That 🇩🇪 nationality-agnostic approach to pharma partners was not the approach used across the channel in 🇬🇧.

Oxford was originally going to partner with American company Merck. But the UK gov overruled it and made them partner with UK-based AstraZeneca.
news.sky.com/story/covid-19… Image
The 🇬🇧 concern over 🇺🇸 vaccine nationalism turned out to be well-founded.

With BioNTech-Pfizer partnership secure, Trump seemed to be in no hurry to sign Pfizer purchase contracts.

Why? He knew a US vaccine export ban would make a contract unnecessary.
Pfizer has massive production capacity in the US. If US law prevented any of those doses made on US soil from being exported, they would have to go to the US in any event.

The result can be seen in the supply chain. 🇺🇸 plants used to supply 🇺🇸, 🇪🇺 plants used to supply 🌍.
Sure enough, Trump signed an executive order in December 2020 giving Americans 1st priority to any vaccines made on US territory.

In fact it was largely symbolic. Trump & Biden have instead used the Defence Production Act as the legal basis for their ban. presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/exec…
Also in December 2020, the UK & US used the emergency use authorisation method to approve Pfizer, while the EU used the more cautious conditional marketing approval method, resulting in EU approving 2-3 weeks later.

UK gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca on 30 December.
When 🇪🇺 gave conditional marketing approval to AstraZeneca on 29 Jan, the company informed EU it would not be meeting original dosage delivery promise because of production problems in EU plant. Seems doses to be reserved for 🇪🇺 had gone to 🇬🇧

The battle between EU & AZ began
The Commission said AZ signed a contract saying it would use all 4 of its production facilities, 2 in UK and 2 in EU, to deliver to EU - so the shortfall should be made up with exports from the UK.

AZ's CEO said they couldn't because of a 'UK 1st' clause.
That battle has raged on without resolution. AZ will only deliver 30m out of promised 80m for Q1 and 70m of promised 180m in Q2, EC says.

Meanwhile EU has exported 10m (mostly Pfizer) doses to UK, while 'UK 1st' clause stops AZ from meeting EU delivery promise from UK plants.
Across the pond, the US export ban has meant 🇨🇦,🇲🇽&🇯🇵 have to get their Pfizer doses from EU plants instead. (🇪🇺 has exported 4.6m doses to 🇨🇦, 3.8m to 🇲🇽, 4m to 🇯🇵)

Situation particularly absurd for 🇨🇦, which must get its Pfizer from Belgium instead of next door in Michigan.
Even US has received vaccine exports from EU: 1 million in February, and 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson a few weeks ago according to the NYT.

J&J doses made in US can't go to EU.

Overall it appears EU has exported half the doses made here. nytimes.com/2021/02/28/wor… Image
These export numbers were revealed last week and Europeans were furious.

In was in this context President Von Der Leyen said on Wednesday the EU is considering an export ban to vaccine-producing countries who don't reciprocate.

Germany, France and Italy are pushing this idea.
What mistakes did EU make? To me it seems obvious.

🇪🇺 took decisions based on an assumption of a free market and good faith from its partners. They didn’t think forcing an EU partner on BioNTech was essential, or EU plants should be for Europeans 1st.

That now appears naive.
EU assumed good behavior. US & UK manoeuvred to benefit themselves.

Many EU countries flubbed vaccine rollouts. EU negotiations & approval maybe took too long.

But what's striking is, for many in US & UK there seems to be 1 set of rules for them and another for everyone else.

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More from @DaveKeating

9 Apr
EU member states and the Commission need to take a decision now about whether they’re going to add #SputnikV to the EU joint procurement program. Otherwise some countries look set to follow Hungary and purchase their own.

But there’s a deep division on this among EU countries.
The Commission has gone out of its way to say it’s perfectly fine for Hungary to purchase Sputnik on its own since it isn’t part of EU joint procurement.

But the reality is it’s very complicated for everyone involved, and goes against the spirit of The EU joint strategy.
German MEP @peterliese, health lead for Merkel & VDL’s EPP, said yesterday he thinks the EU EMA is going to approve Sputnik.

If they do, he says, then EU countries should use it without hesitation.
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
#Sofagate continues to escalate.

The Turkish foreign minister has lashed out at Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after he earlier tonight lamented how VDL was treated and called Erdogan a “dictator”.
“I felt very sorry for the humiliation that European Commission President von der Leyen had to undergo,” Draghi said during a press conference earlier tonight.
“With these — let’s call them for what they are — dictators, which we however need to cooperate with...one has to be frank in expressing a diversity of views, opinions, behaviors, visions of society,” the Italian prime minister said of the Turkish president.
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
President Michel speaking to Belgium's @LesNews24 now about #SofaGate.

He starts by expressing regret at what took place - the closest we've yet come to an apology.
"I did not stand up because it would have created an even more serious diplomatic incident," says President Michel.

"The images are brutal but do not reflect the content of our meeting," he insists. He notes the meeting was sensitive, he's trying to rescue relations with Turkey
President Michel gives same description of the premises inspection given by the Council's protocol team a few hours earlier.

"It was not possible to enter the room in question" and so the Council didn't know about chair situation before he arrived.
Read 5 tweets
8 Apr
MEP Peter Liese, health lead for EU's largest political party EPP, had some interesting remarks today about the latest vaccine developments.

He says the main message from yesterday's #AstraZeneca blood clot news should be this: "It's possible to treat, we have a cure" (🧵1/14 )
Now that they've been identified, the blood clot deaths can be prevented.

It's an immune reaction that can be treated with antibodies, he says. That's why patients need to be informed of symptoms.

"What we're talking about is a serious side effect but it’s very rare." (2/14)
"I personally know a patient [who got the blood clots] who came to hospital last week, and she’s about to leave the hospital tomorrow.

"It’s a really serious issue, it’s life-threatening, but when you have the right treatment you can look at it." (3/14)
Read 14 tweets
8 Apr
So now Turkey is saying the EU's protocol team signed off on the seating arrangements. The question is, which team?

The Commission said their protocol team didn't come because of Covid. That leaves the embassy (EEAS), or the Council.
#Sofagate has turned into a whodunnit with the Turks now claiming the seating arrangement was cleared by an EU protocol team.

The Commission says their team wasn't there. So was it Michel's team that orchestrated the two chairs, or the Turks? Was it intentional, or a mistake?
This all may seem like an inconsequential focus on musical chairs, but it's being seen as an indicator of 4 important things:

🇹🇷 Turkey's treatment of women
😡 Erdogan's antagonism toward EU
🇪🇺 Possible conflict between EU's two presidents
🤷‍♂️ Why there are 2 EU presidents at all
Read 7 tweets
7 Apr
BREAKING: An updated assessment by the EU Medicines Agency finds there *is* a possible link between the #AstraZeneca vaccine and "very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets."
"Unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects," the EMA now says.

"So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within 2 weeks of vaccination...specific risk factors have not been confirmed."
"The chance of having this occur is very low, but you should still be aware of symptoms" EMA says.

"The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive it."
Read 7 tweets

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