Brexit spin on vaccine taskforce makes me sick

Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective face mask, talks to a patient as he visits a coronavirus vaccination centre

French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective face mask, talks to a patient as he visits a coronavirus vaccination centre - Credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The UK could have saved the European Union from vaccine disaster.

It is very much in the UK’s interest to have a well-vaccinated EU (and world). Your recent articles have highlighted the problems in Europe, but also warned of the vaccine roll-out being wrapped in a Brexit narrative that seeks to undermine the EU and the notion of international cooperation.

In the UK we should imagine what might have happened if the UK had chosen to join the EU vaccine task force. I think we could have improved it (if you excuse my imaginative exceptionalism!).

It would have been bigger, with more money to buy into more vaccines. Inside, we may have persuaded the rest to contribute more and take on private risks of failure, as the UK did outside.

It is easy now to think we knew vaccines would work – we didn’t. It was a gamble and we got lucky. It could have been the EU that came up with one of the first winning numbers. We should imagine how much more effective the European Medicines Agency would have been if the UK had not left it.

Those who cling to a belief in Brexit can say it would have been worse if we had not left the EU but there is a non-Brexit narrative: Brexit may not have helped the UK, it may have hindered us and the EU. Like Covid, Brexit makes you sick!
Roland Lazarus

When I read the headline “What the EU got right on vaccines” (TNE #234) I thought this would be a very short article. I admire your author to find so many words about the catastrophic failure of the civil servants in Brussels.

If one really wants to put a bunch of civil servants in charge of such a vital business decision, one would have had to help them with the temporary assignment of experts from the procurement department of a commercially successful organisation.

In a democracy we all have to vote for political parties – I would prefer to have to vote for experts to get jobs done.
Peter Dalheimer

On the question of a European strategy on vaccines (“Winners and losers in EU’s great vaccine race”, TNE #235), national stances can be attributed to national cultures.

The English with a queue fetish are used to using sharp elbows to get to the front (if you are privileged) and waiting your turn at the back (if not).

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The French, nurtured on the Tour de France, know that a fast start can be counterproductive if there are obstacles on the road and the race is a long one.

But the real question is whether the opportunity will be seized to establish an international treaty on pandemic management which will institute legal obligations on all countries to take effective measures, and the rich countries to help the poor countries.

This is being proposed by the president of the European Council with almost no publicity or support.
Roger Steer

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