Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said all vaccine manufacturers are welcome to apply for EMA approval, but Brussels has so far not taken steps that could potentially speed the process for vaccines already in use in other jurisdictions. Von der Leyen also publicly raised doubts about the Sputnik vaccine, despite little scientific evidence to support those concerns.
Orbán’s full-throated public support for Russian and Chinese vaccines also stands in stark contrast to some other EU leaders, who have even cast doubt on vaccines approved by the EU.
French President Emmanuel Macron has amplified skepticism about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine — one of the three vaccines approved by the EMA for all age groups — saying it appeared to be “quasi-ineffective” for people over age 65. Macron has since walked back his comments to some degree and even said he would accept the AstraZeneca vaccine personally.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is 66, has said she would not take the AstraZeneca vaccine because it is not recommended by German experts for her age group. But critics have blamed poor communication by EU leaders for unnecessarily raising public doubts about the AstraZeneca jab, leading many to refuse it.
Thomas Mertens, the chair of Germany’s advisory body Stiko, told public broadcaster ZDF on Friday that the advisers were going to rethink their recommendation, conceding that the communication around the vaccine had “all gone a bit wrong.”