Italy 'felt under pressure' to halt AstraZeneca says Adler
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Italy’s Gianluigi Paragone called Ursula von der Leyen’s behaviour “inadequate” and “irresponsible” as she struggles to keep a lid on the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Paragone said big pharmaceutical companies are now stronger than Europe because they can do what they like with no consequence. Former Eurocrat Jean Claude-Juncker also blasted Ms von der Leyen and said it would be “foolish” to start a vaccine war with Britain.
Speaking at the Senate of the Republic, Mr Paragone said: “I have proposed to this chamber a resolution by which the Government undertakes to officially request the resignation of Ms von der Leyen.
“Whose inadequacy and irresponsibility are evident, be careful not to repeat the mistakes of when you covered for President Juncker and his fiscal magic in favour of multinationals.
“If it is true, President Draghi, that Europe has called the Covid emergency an unprecedented challenge then the responsibilities must have names and surnames.
“Having hidden the negotiations with the giants of the drug is scandalous.
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“Big Pharma is stronger than Europe because Europe suffers a subjection to multinational power, from vaccines to food.”
Ms von der Leyen has faced criticisms for her incendiary threats of blocking vaccine exports to places like the UK to tackle European supply issues.
The two sides revealed they are conducting talks to create a “win-win situation” for both parties in a joint statement released this week.
During the European Parliament’s plenary session on Tuesday, MEPs warned that the UK would retaliate if there were any export bans put in place.
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German MEP Bernd Lange warned the Commission was on a “dangerous path” if it pushed ahead and said the UK would halt vaccine materials from being exported in retaliation.
Martin Schirdewan, another German MEP, also said at the session the EU was moving at a “snail’s pace” and said a rebellion against its leadership could be on the cards.
They join a growing number of MEPs who are growing concerned over the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the EU.
Politicians are also angry at the rising cases on the continent as new COVID-19 variants are regularly discovered.
But the AstraZeneca jab was paused in some European countries over fears it caused fatal blood clots – slowing down the vaccination programme.
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But after research from the World Health Organisation and the European Medicine Agency said the jab was safe some countries have restarted its rollout.
However, vaccine hesitancy surrounding the AZ jab has become worse as millions of doses sit unused in storage despite calls to ban exports of it.
An alliance of European countries – which include Ireland, Belgium and Sweden – are fighting back against the proposals from Ms von der Leyen and fear a vaccine war could break out.
One senior diplomat said: “Having the stick should be enough, we don’t want to use the stick because this will lead to a lose-lose situation.
“Things should not go sour, that’s the worst thing that could occur, let’s get back to what we’re all looking for which is vaccinating our people.”
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