Bavaria’s Söder slams Brussels over coronavirus vaccine delays

MUNICH — Bavarian premier Markus Söder on Friday blamed the European Commission for delays in the Continent’s vaccination campaign.

Söder, considered a possible candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor after this year’s election, said the current situation was “more than unsatisfactory.”

“In my opinion — that’s my impression — the order was placed too late, and then only a few [pharmaceutical] companies were chosen,” Söder told public broadcaster ZDF, adding “operational responsibility clearly lay with [Brussels].”

A row erupted this week when vaccine producer AstraZeneca said it would have to deliver significantly fewer doses to the EU for now than planned, with the firm and Brussels each blaming the other for the delay.

Söder said that while it was important to answer the question of responsibility, “now we have to focus on getting more vaccines — and faster.”

He nevertheless offered his opinion on who was to blame. “The decision was made in what I think is a typical, normal, bureaucratic EU procedure, also with regard to the money issues. And I think the fundamental importance in this situation was completely underestimated,” he said.

Söder also complained that “countless questions are still open,” including how it was possible that “in the U.S. vaccines could be delivered months earlier and in higher quantities” compared to the EU. He added that it was “simply not right” that elderly people were still waiting for a jab in Europe “while in Israel, grandchildren are being vaccinated.”

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