Vaccine Shortages Hit EU in a Setback for Its Immunization Race

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Vaccine Shortages Hit EU in a Setback for Its Immunization Race

Europe’s coronavirus vaccination problems turned into a full-fledged crisis on Wednesday, as Spain became the first country to partially suspend vaccinations for lack of doses, and a dispute escalated with AstraZeneca about the drugmaker’s announcement that it would cut shipments of its vaccine by 60 percent due to production deficits.

The European Union has been beset by a litany of problems since approving its first coronavirus vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, in December and has rushed to start a massive vaccination campaign weeks behind countries rich like the United States and Great Britain.

Despite being teeming with money, influence and negotiating clout, the 27-nation bloc found itself behind these countries, along with others like Israel, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, deploying similar efforts to get enough doses for their citizens, though many countries around the world, especially the poorest, are struggling to get them.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive, set itself last week the goal of vaccinating 70% of its population by this summer, a goal that was rejected four days later by the President of the European Council , Charles Michel, as being “difficult”.