Ursula von der Leyen reignites vaccine row with UK

Ursula von der Leyen reignites Covid row with UK by claiming EU tortoise WON the race to vaccinate citizens because a pandemic is a ‘marathon, not a sprint’

  • Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs that a ‘pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint’
  • She said the EU did its vaccine rollout ‘the right way’ and the ‘European way’
  • Comments likely to reignite a rumbling row with the UK over vaccine strategy

Ursula von der Leyen has claimed victory in the race to rollout coronavirus vaccines as she took a swipe at Boris Johnson by saying ‘a pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint’. 

The President of the European Commission said the EU’s vaccination drive had succeeded because ‘we did it the right way, because we did it the European way’. 

Mrs von der Leyen’s comments will be viewed as a thinly veiled criticism of countries like the UK which rushed to rollout vaccines first. 

The remarks risk reigniting a furious row between Britain and the bloc over vaccine strategy and supply. 

Ursula von der Leyen has claimed victory in the race to rollout coronavirus vaccines as she took a swipe at Boris Johnson by saying ‘a pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint’

Mrs von der Leyen’s comments will be viewed as a thinly veiled criticism of countries like the UK which rushed to rollout vaccines first

Mrs von der Leyen said more than 70 per cent of adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. 

Official UK Government data showed that 81.3 per cent of UK adults have now had both doses. 

In her State of the Union Address yesterday, Mrs von der Leyen said the EU ‘chose to go it together’ on jabs ‘so that every part of Europe got the same access to a life-saving vaccine’.

She told MEPs: ‘A year is a long time in a pandemic. When I stood in front of you 12 months ago, I did not know when – or even if – we would have a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.

‘But today, and against all critics, Europe is among the world leaders. More than 70 per cent of adults in the EU are fully vaccinated. 

‘We were the only ones to share half of our vaccine production with the rest of the world. We delivered more than 700 million doses to the European people, and we delivered more than another 700 million doses to the rest of the world, to more than 130 countries.

‘We are the only region in the world to achieve that. A pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint.

‘We followed the science. We delivered to Europe. We delivered to the world. We did it the right way, because we did it the European way. And it worked.’ 

Mrs von der Leyen did not mention the vaccine stand-off with the UK from earlier this year which saw the EU threaten to ban the export of jabs to the country. 

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