Vaccine shortages: are export bans the solution?

Faced with continuing Covid vaccine shortages in the EU, Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to impose export bans. According to Brussels, at least 41 million doses have been exported from the EU since February, ten million of which went to the UK. Meanwhile British-Swedish manufacturer Astrazeneca has only delivered 30 percent of the agreed vaccine doses to the EU in the first quarter, EU sources say. Europe's press discusses the pros and cons of export bans.

Open/close all quotes
Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Highly contagious

In the end no one will benefit from export bans, warns Dagens Nyheter:

“The EU is based on free trade, not only within the bloc, but also with other countries. Export bans of different kinds can easily spread between countries and continents. ... However vaccine production, like so many other things, depends on international supply chains. The ingredients are sourced here and there and then put together somewhere else. ... The risk of reprisals and undesirable side effects is therefore high. This is certainly also true for the UK, whose strict stance is rooted in domestic politics. Export bans could lead to fewer vaccines - for everyone. And won't make any impression on a single coronavirus.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Increase capacities instead of squabbling

Instead of starting disputes states should concentrate on finding solutions, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung urges:

“The EU countries should stay away from export controls. This is the wrong way to make up for the mistakes made in the ordering process, vaccine approval and vaccination campaigns. ... Brussels is overreacting to the accusations of vaccination nationalism. And the EU is in fact currently exporting millions of vaccine doses to the rest of the world, while EU countries are managing the vaccination shortages quite well and the UK has stipulated to pharmaceutical companies that it is to get priority delivery from British production facilities. ... In any case, all the energy would be better invested if the states were to give more thought to how production capacities can be increased to tackle this global challenge.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

The EU must finally start defending itself

The UK and the US are applying double standards, rails The Irish Independent:

“They have the gall to lecture the EU about the dangers of vaccine nationalism when the entirety of their own vaccine programme is premised on just that: hoard vaccines until their own populations are immunised and then they'll consider donating any excess. It's time for the EU to get its act together. No one is going to be awarding any prizes for the 'most generous exporter of vaccines' when this is all over. Delays in the vaccination programme need to be addressed. Now. If that takes threats, or the limiting of vaccine exports to countries who are light years ahead of us in their vaccination programme, so be it.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Be heroes like in 1945

The UK must support its neighbours on the other side of the Channel, The Daily Telegraph urges:

“This country is in a position to be super-nice. ... There is a moral case for helping the EU. Britain has the capacity to help rescue millions of elderly on the Continent and thus prevent thousands of deaths by offering some of its own vaccines. There is an economic case, too. Even when we become well protected here - a day which is not far off – we shall not be able to recover economic normality if our neighbours continue to be locked down. We could free Europe from that curse. If it can be done, it will be the best lead we have given to Europe since 1945.”