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Looking for a scapegoat

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 10:42:55 AM EST

The vaccine roll-out has been a bit of a disaster for the EU, so obviously somebody has to be at fault. In the infantile world of much modern politics it's all about finding a scapegoat and it looks like the Irish government has decided that Ursula Von Der Leyen would be a good candidate for the role. Former UK Conservative party Leader and Brexiteer, William Hague, has described Ursula von der Leyen's time as president of the European Commission as "among the most dismal in its existence" and he clearly has the EU's best interests at heart. I have drafted a letter to the editor as follows:


Stephen Collins is usually a good weathervane of Irish establishment thinking, so it was interesting to read his comments on Ursula Von Der Leyen in (Doubts grow over Von der Leyen's stewardship, Opinion, 26th. March).


In assessing her performance to date, we should bear in mind that the member states only gave the Commission a mandate to negotiate vaccine contracts on their behalf last June, long after Trump's Warp speed initiative and the UK's vaccine procurement efforts had begun. They did so to avoid the chaos of the earlier Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) procurement fiasco which had member states competing against each other for scarce supplies.

Some member states were also wary of the Commission awarding contracts to vaccine producers in other member states and others were very concerned at the potential cost and legal liability issues should unwanted side effects manifest themselves at a later stage.

We must remember that no vaccine had been approved for use at this stage and there was considerable uncertainty as to which vaccine candidates would prove efficacious and safe.

As the Commission has only very limited competency in health care matters and no previous experience of vaccine procurement (or emergency response preparation, for that matter) Von Der Leyen put an experienced trade negotiator in charge of the procurement negotiations. Trade negotiations typically take years to complete, proceed at a glacial pace, and require unanimity among the member states to conclude.

In the circumstances, it was remarkable that the Commission concluded an extensive range of vaccine procurement contracts within a few months of being given a mandate to do so. They did so in legally binding agreements including "best efforts" clauses common in such agreements and similar to those contracts negotiated by the UK.

Indeed, according to a CNN report citing various legal authorities who had seen redacted versions of both the EU and UK contracts, the EU contract is virtually identical to the UK Astra Zeneca contract which was actually signed the day after the EU one.

We may never know what behind the scenes deals were made by the UK to persuade Astra Zeneca to prioritise UK supplies as UK government spokes people always demur citing "national security" considerations when asked that question, and the US government has invoked the Defence Production Act to restrict the export of vaccines.

Whatever the mechanism, it is clear that sovereign states like the US and UK adopted an America first and Britain first approach to vaccine procurement while criticising the EU for "vaccine nationalism" even though the EU has exported more vaccine doses than it has given to its own citizens.

The moral of the story is that the EU brought a knife to a gunfight, but as this week's meeting of the EU Council showed, it is doubtful the member states would have given the Commission a more robust mandate to secure priority vaccine supplies for their own citizens. Several member states, including Ireland, opposed the Commission's proposal to institute vaccine export controls, citing concerns it could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production in the EU.

Only time will tell whether these concerns are overdone, and whether the EU could have done more to prioritise vaccines for its own citizens, especially when many of those vaccines have gone to Israel and the UK which are far more advanced in vaccinating their general populations, and not just those most at risk.

But it seems clear that the primary fault lies not with Van der Leyen, but with a general EU reluctance to undermine international trading rules even as their own citizens are dying in increasing numbers.

The Commission may not have been well prepared to conduct its first ever pharmaceutical procurement negotiations, and even less prepared for an emergency response role, but if that is to become an ongoing role for the Commission, it needs to be given a clearer and more timely mandate to develop those capabilities.

Focusing on the personal qualities of Von Der Leyen is a case of national governments seeking to avoid responsibility for what can at best, be euphemistically described as a "learning Experience", and at worst, a disaster for all of us.

Making a scapegoat out of Von der Leyen may suit the agendas of some national governments, but it does nothing for the future of the Union.

It is most unlikely that my letter will be published, as it is much too long for the tastes of most editors. But I felt we should avoid the easy option of heaping all blame on Van Der Leyen when there are clearly deeper structural issues at play. The Commission has never before been given such an extensive role in health care and pharmaceutical procurement, or indeed crises management in general. If national governments want to off-load some of those responsibilities onto the Commission, they have to give it a formal mandate to do so and time to develop the capabilities and accountabilities required.

The UK, and (to a slightly lesser extent) the Irish media like to play blame games and the hunt for a suitable resignation candidate is on. The UK has been playing the game of pushing all blame onto the EU even for policy initiatives entirely within its own competency for years, and has now reaped the almost inevitable consequences. We must be careful of falling into the same trap.

I am also deeply allergic to taking lessons in democratic accountability from unelected Tory Lords. Ursula Von Der Leyen may be few people's personification of an ideal leader for the EU, but the issues here go far beyond her personal qualities and accountabilities.

Display:
A few quotes...

Tory PM Boris Johnson:
We won the vaccine war and speedy inoculation race due to "greed" and "capitalism".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock:
We have exclusivity rights in our contract with AstraZeneca!

British boulevard Press:
We'll take care of the facts and will accuse   the EU of nationalist practise.

VP and now President Joe Biden:
Keeping most  sanctions in place and adding a few of my own. Trump's Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Contracts and FDA's emergency proces. Biden added the Defense Production Act to block all exports of vaccines and raw materials.

[Funding has been routed through a defense contract management firm called Advanced Technologies International, Inc. ATI then awarded contracts to companies working on COVID-19 vaccines. - Top Secret National Security]

Manufacturing in India was hit hard by lack of components to produce UN COVAX vaccines for third world countries ...

Indian vaccine giant SII warns of supply hit from U.S. raw materials export ban | Reuters |

by Oui on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 03:43:23 PM EST
The whole production issue has become a national security issue with top secret deals worth Billions awarded behind the scenes without tender. The EU Commission is ill-equipped to compete in that space and doesn't have a mandate to do so anyway.

The bottom line is that the EU must ensure it has all strategically important industries and supply chains located within its borders which is a long term strategic planning issue rather than anything to do with the personality of the President of the Commission.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 03:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One could say that a definitive Brexit dividend is that we, in the EU, no longer have to give a sh*t what the British gutter press writes. Even the Guardian and the Beeb are sliding into jingoism and thinly veiled xenophobia.

They say that major crises do reveal both the best and the worst in human nature.

Reading your letter, I noted that while many countries are complaining about the Commission "not having done enough", Von Der Leyen herself is seldom singled out (that Von, not Van, she's German, not Dutch). It may be that the Irish ruling class being English speaking (Gaelic too?), they tend to pay more attention to said British gutter press than they ought to.

Because continuous tabloid covers of VdL pictures with screaming headlines like "EU wants to pilfer our jabs!"   do not make an argument; it's just foaming at the mouth and rabble rousing. The fact they're focusing their attacks on a woman is also revealing, IMHO.

I think the Irish leaders would be well inspired to follow your advice and focus more on re-enforcing ties with the EU, and stop paying too much attention to the noisy neighbors to the East.

by Bernard on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 05:42:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes the older generation of politicians, editors and journalists are very anglo-centric, particularly on the right of the spectrum. The Irish independent is beyond a joke in this regarded, dominated by what are derisively referred to as West Brits. It's recently been taken over by Belgian media group Mediahuis which may lead to change in the long term. I'm trying to influence the Times in a more Eurocentric direction.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 07:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Lack of perspective': why Ursula von der Leyen's EU vaccine strategy is failing

"Juncker no dummy, he right," the ex-Vote Leave strategist wrote. "& if Commission, now melting down, don't listen, UK shd NOT tit-for-tat but shd make generous offer over heads of EU leaders to EUR peoples - will bring years of goodwill, good policy & politics, & Cmsn will cave shortly after."

A shovel full of manure from Cummings!

Juncker: We have to pull back from a Covid vaccine war

by Oui on Sun Mar 28th, 2021 at 10:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A recent post ...

Vaccines: Millions of Stocked Doses To Be Released

by Oui on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 03:59:21 PM EST
VdL has been criticized for many things: isolating herself in her office in the Berlaymont building (she's lives in an apartment on the same floor), with only a small group of confidants she brought with her from Germany, her sparse communication to the press - except it seems, to the German press - and a very concentrated rather than collegial exercise of power.

I don't know of much of that criticism is warranted or not, but it is not fair to lay the blame of the EU vaccination slow start solely at the Commission: as you pointed, out, negotiating supply contracts was not an EC competency. As usual in the EU, the Council rules over the EC and keeps it on a short leash. When things go well, the heads of government in the Council are happy to take credit, and they are as happy to let the EC take the blame when things don't go so well.

If anything, this vaccine supply crisis may have actually compelled the Council to give the EC more power to lean into the vaccine suppliers - Thierry Breton is reportedly calling all chief execs every morning at 5:00, starting with AstraZeneca. All the drama surrounding the Halix plant in the Netherlands and the 29 million doses located in Italy may be signaling that the European countries want their supply agreements to actually have teeth.

by Bernard on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 06:02:29 PM EST
She got the Commissioners she wanted. She should use them more.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 07:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very interesting but the faux pas of attempting to close the Irish border over vaccines was entirely of vdL's making and she went on to blame a Commissioner's staff (may have been Dombrovskis). She is a worthy contender for the title of worst Commission President in my memory, though so far she's outdone by Santer and Barroso. And of course the Council got the Commissioner they wanted.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 28th, 2021 at 07:27:03 AM EST
I haven't seen anything to suggest she was personally involved in the decision, and at least she was quick to reverse it once Michael Martin contacted her on it to express his concerns.

From what I have read the decision on Article 16 was not included in earlier drafts of the regulation circulated to other Commissioners, and the regulation was formally adopted within an hour of the final version of it being circulated and before others had had a chance to sound the alarm.

It was seen by the trade directorate (the lead agency) as an entirely technical matter to close a potential loophole and those working on it didn't appreciate the political implications.

Of course Von Der Leyen, as Commission President, has to take overall responsibility for all acts of the Commission and it never looks good if someone working on her behalf tries to push the responsibility elsewhere.

But to claim she was personally involved in making that decision is not something I have seen in evidence, and I have no problem with people who make a mistake and then act quickly to correct it. If only all our political leaders did so.

To try an big this up as some sort of major flaw in the Commission President is  playing into the agenda of Brexiteers who couldn't give a fig for the concerns of Unionists - the only people it offended - and are just looking for a stick to beat the EU with.

I have no particular view on Von Der Leyen's competence in general, but as I said in my letter I think the Commission has major structural issues it needs to address if it is to have an ongoing role in pharmaceutical procurement or emergency response management.

Frankly I think the sort of personality politics played by Brexiteers and the UK Tabloid press is a distraction from more important issues, and I don't think we should be buying into it.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 28th, 2021 at 01:04:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The success of greed and capitalism once again ... did Boris refer to Labour and Brussels as Communists yet? Can't be far off ..

Coronavirus: UK 'set to offer 3.7m vaccines to Ireland' amid EU exports row

by Oui on Sun Mar 28th, 2021 at 02:02:41 PM EST
While this fight over the distribution of the produced vaccines goes on, I think one should note that India - with support of a lot of countries - in October tried to get a temporary pause for patents related to the pandemic, and after much stalling a few weeks ago EU, UK, USA, Japan, Brazil and a few other countries voted it down in the WTO. Africa, India, China, most of Latin America voted for it. So fighting over the doses made by the monopolists will continue, and lifting the monopoly so that more can be produced is of the table. Can't have a pandemic messing with the profit structure.
by fjallstrom on Mon Mar 29th, 2021 at 08:24:17 AM EST
Furthermore, both the USA and UK putting export blocks in place ...

Imposing DPA on the global vaccines and API market.

API Active Pharmaceutical Ingedients

by Oui on Mon Mar 29th, 2021 at 08:40:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU and Ursula von der Leyen's dilemma
A chara, - Stephen Collins is usually a good weathervane of Irish establishment thinking, so it was interesting to read his comments on Ursula von der Leyen ("Doubts grow over Von der Leyen's stewardship", Opinion, & Analysis, March 26th).

The EU member states only gave the commission a mandate to negotiate vaccine contracts on their behalf last June, long after Donald Trump's "Warp Speed" initiative and the UK's vaccine procurement efforts had begun. They did so to avoid the chaos of the earlier personal protection equipment procurement chaos which had member states competing against each other for scarce supplies.

Some member states were also wary of the commission awarding contracts to vaccine producers in other member states and others were very concerned at the potential cost and legal liability issues should unwanted side-effects manifest themselves at a later stage.

No vaccine had been approved for use at this stage and there was considerable uncertainty as to which vaccine candidates would prove efficacious and safe.

As the commission has only very limited competency in healthcare matters and no previous experience of vaccine procurement or emergency response preparation, Ms Von der Leyen put an experienced trade negotiator in charge of the procurement negotiations. Trade negotiations typically take years to complete, proceed at a glacial pace, and require unanimity among the member states to conclude.

In the circumstances, it was remarkable that the commission concluded an extensive range of vaccine procurement contracts within a few months of being given a mandate to do so. It did so in legally binding agreements including "best efforts" clauses common in such agreements.

The US and UK adopted an America first and Britain first approach to vaccine procurement while criticising the EU for "vaccine nationalism", even though the EU has exported more vaccine doses than it has given to its own citizens.

As this week's meeting of the European Council showed, it is doubtful the member states would have given the commission a more robust mandate to secure priority vaccine supplies for their own citizens. Several member states, including Ireland, opposed the commission's proposal to institute vaccine export controls, citing concerns it could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production in the EU.

Only time will tell whether these concerns are overdone, and whether the EU could have done more to prioritise vaccines for its own citizens, especially when many of those vaccines have gone to Israel and the UK, which are far more advanced in vaccinating their general populations, and not just those most at risk.

But it seems clear that the primary fault lies not with Ms von der Leyen, but with a general EU reluctance to undermine international trading rules even as their own citizens are dying in increasing numbers.

The commission may not have been well prepared to conduct its first pharmaceutical procurement negotiations, and even less prepared for an emergency response role, but if that is to become an ongoing role for the commission, it needs to be given a clearer and more timely mandate to develop those capabilities.

Making a scapegoat out of Ursula von der Leyen may suit some national governments, but it does nothing for the future of the EU. - Yours, etc,,




Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 30th, 2021 at 11:26:37 PM EST
The EU is a major manufacturer and exporter of vaccines.
As far as I know, it's a zero-sum game : if the inhabitants of the EU have missed out on doses, they have not gone to waste, they have gone to other countries and been used.

Given that the EU (as such) has a limited role in these matters, and that it has acted in good faith insofar as it is only in recent weeks that the notion of European vaccine protectionism has emerged, I don't see that there is any "EU vaccine disaster" on offer.

Each constituent country has a regalian duty to provide vaccines to its population; the EU has, rightly, offered help, without having any specific competency. I find it difficult morally to justify vaccine protectionism on a EU level; that, too, should be a national prerogative. But the individual nations prefer to hide behind the EU on this... Bravely.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Mar 31st, 2021 at 02:34:35 PM EST
It's not entirely a zero sum game if vaccines manufactured in the EU continue to go to countries with much higher vaccination rates and who are now vaccinating low risk people while relatively high risk people in the EU are still waiting their turn.

In an entirely fair world vaccines would have been allocated to each country based on their current infection/death rate so that all high risk/exposure people are vaccinated simultaneously for countries with similar infection/death risks. High risk people in Czechia, Hungary, Belgium etc. would then receive the highest priority working downwards.  

But as we know we don't live in an entirely fair world and I have a difficulty with Brexiteers gloating about vaccinating their general population while high risk categories go unvaccinated elsewhere and quoting contract law in support of their position. In a few months time, when almost everyone has been vaccinated, all of this might well be forgotten, but right now its a sore point for many.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 31st, 2021 at 06:21:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I heard (Feb 2021) the Tories were violating vaccination protocol by giving as many first shots as they could and not following-up with the same number of second shots.  This allowed them a propaganda victory.  The medical results however are suspect.  Not putting a person through the whole course of intervention is the classic way for a pathogen to become resistant to the intervention.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 04:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they're allowing a 12 week gap between shots, when the trial data is based on a 3-4 week gap. I actually think there is a legitimate epidemiological case for this, as studies indicate even the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine offers a very high level of protection, whereas the second dose only boosts this by 10% or so.

If that is the case, and you get one person 85% protected with 1 shot, it may make sense to delay the second shot and give it as a first shot to someone else who will be 85% protected rather than boosting the first person by only another 10%.

From an individual point of view, you want to get max protection asap, but from a herd immunity perspective, you get more bang for you buck by spreading the doses more.

Of course medical opinion is divided on this and we won't be sure what is the most effective strategy for some time yet. But to me it seems getting as many people 85% protected as possible ASAP is a better strategy to avoid further spread.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 07:44:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pfizer and Moderna are 80% effective after the first dose and 94-95% effective after the second.  

At least according to the Infotainment Mediums.  I haven't been able to track down the (supposed) CDC study the Infotainment Reports are (supposedly) reporting.  Given journalists and editors exhibit almost total ignorance of science and technology take with salt.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 03:57:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Study link ...

Messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in randomized placebo-controlled Phase III trials

The findings complement and expand upon these preceding reports by demonstrating that the vaccines can also reduce the risk for infection regardless of COVID-19-associated illness symptom status (4,5). Reducing the risk for transmissible infection, which can occur among persons with asymptomatic infection or among persons several days before symptoms onset (6), is especially important among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers given their potential to transmit the virus through frequent close contact with patients and the public.

(My) conclusion: vaccination does limit virus shredding by a-symptomatic persons and prevent high level of infection.

by Oui on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 04:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 04:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In any case, this "what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable" hasn't improved Britain's image in Europe. If anything, the EU27 governments are now united on one point: get tough with Johnson.
by Bernard on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 06:06:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does it take Brexiteers crowing over their vaccine nationalism to unite EU leaders against them? Was the UK breaking the N. Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal agreement not enough for them?

AFAIK talks aimed at providing UK financial services "equivalence" and greater access to the Single Market are still making good progress.

Why?

And will the EP not vote to ratify the Trade and Cooperation Agreement?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 07:50:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit has had a very uneven impact among the 27 EU member countries. First and foremost, of course Ireland getting cut from a "landbridge" to the rest of the EU and all the concerns over NI, the Border and the Protocol.

Then, to a lesser extent, the countries having a strong trade with the UK, or fishing fleets in the UK waters, mostly countries on the western side of the continent.

But Ireland, north or south, is a very faraway country seen from Bucarest, Ljubljana or Bratislava and Brexit had a relatively smaller impact in those countries in eastern Europe. Over there, Brexit is not the prominent, almost existential issue that it represents for Ireland. In a large number of EU countries, Brexit doesn't have the mind-share it has in Ireland, not anywhere close.

The AZ vaccine, on the other hand, and the strong-arming tactics of the UK government to ensure that all the doses produced in the UK be delivered to the UK while happily accepting over 8 million doses from AZ factories on the continent exported to the UK, in the name of "free trade": this has hit all the EU27 pretty much equally. It has shown that the Tories are not merely a nuisance to their nearest neighbors but can stick it up even to the most remote regions of Europe.

For over a year now, the Covid crisis has being issue #1, issue #2 and issue #3 to just about every government in Europe, in a way that Brexit has never ever been. That's what's different.

As for the financial services equivalence and the Trade agreement ratification, I don't expect it is going to move as smoothly as it is expected in Whitehall (while they're still crowing about having pulled a fast one over the Continentals, smart lads that they are).

by Bernard on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 08:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well articulated and I appreciate that, from a popular point of view, Brexit did not figure all that highly in most EU member states. Perhaps I am being over legalistic about all this, but to break an agreement within weeks of having signed it is to me a red flag issue sufficient to close down all other meaningful talks unless they are absolutely necessary from an EU self-interested point of view.

I cannot see why anyone would want to make concessions to a Tory government while that situation continues - unless you are a craven Anglophile, as some in Ireland are. To me opposing Tory mendacity, as much as opposing Trump mendacity is, a matter of principle which should have united all EU governments, even if the issue was obscure to many citizens.

All that said, if opposition to UK vaccine nationalism brings their mendacity (which we tend to take for granted) home to the general EU public, then so much the better. This has become an existential issue for the EU. If it cannot do better, post Brexit, than the UK, it's raison d'etre is demolished.

Why remain a member if the UK has shown they can do better on their own?  I hope this realisation lights a fire under the Commission and various EU member state governments tempted to play soft-ball with the UK. Draghi's "whatever it takes" comment in relation to the ECB must now become the motto of the Commission, Council and Parliament.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 08:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Šefčovič, who was painted by Whitehall as "reasonable" (as opposed to "robotic Barnier"), was the first to throw the book at the UK. I don't see anyone in Brussels, or in any EU capital, willing to make any concessions to the Tories. Not now; not after the AZ export blow-up; not after the NI protocol breaches.

If it looked, to many EU countries, mostly a matter of principle, but one that still got them united behind the EC and its now retired chief negotiator, the vaccine crisis has really brought home the point that disregarding principles has real-life consequences. It has effectively been the Great Equalizer among all the EU27.

Even if the higher number of vaccinated people gives the Tories some bragging rights today, I don't see any evidence that the whole Brexit thing is doing so great.  Businesses are still relocating to the continent, the EU won't cut them any slack, Biden is still Irish and the only passenger rail link between the UK and continental Europe may shutdown because the Tories are unwilling to fund it (Eurostar's UK shares have been bought back by the French and Belgian railways some years ago).

It's good that so many Britons have been already vaccinated because they have suffered enough already: the UK has by far the highest Covid death toll of all the European nations. However, there's no guarantee they will be able to continue at this rate without further imports from the EU, especially considering they have purposely delayed the second injection to cover more people with a first jab.

by Bernard on Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 at 09:04:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems likely the Brexit economic impact will be drawn out over several years at least. Small companies might internalize losses in order to stay in business for a while, big companies can draw on their cash resources. And mixing the COVID-19 damage in with the Brexit numbers will give politicians cover. It might be five years before equilibrium is reached?
by asdf on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 03:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have always seen the Brexit damage as slow and incremental rather than as a big bang. Any initial problems will be masked by Covid and it may take 10 years for the UK to recover its reputation as "the sick man of Europe". The Tories are brilliant at marketing even small wins while the big stuff will be ignored by a compliant media. Brits still don't realise that income/capita is higher in Ireland than in their Great Britain and many will not notice for many years..

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 04:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the page you linked to doesn't show any income per capita figures at all: I've searched the table at least twice. It does show plenty of figures, including a GDP par capita figure more than twice the UK's ($84 K vs. $40 K), but we know that this ridiculous number is due to leprechaun economics and adds little to the Irish people's wealth.

I've tried to find figures for the household income per capita (for "real" people, not corporation-are-people), from various sources: they tend to show a figure ($22,500 to $25,300) that is a bit behind the UK's households ($25,000 to $28,700), but not by much.

Obviously, the income has progressed a lot since Ireland joined the EU, particularly during the Celtic Tiger years, and is now closing the gap without most of Western Europe countries; it looks like  Irish household income is now higher than in Spain or even Italy.

OTOH, the income figure for UK households may actually go down over the next years, with the Brexit effects slowly eating at the people's "real" economy (not the City), as you mentioned.

by Bernard on Sun Apr 11th, 2021 at 10:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And note the second half of my comment:

Not putting a person through the whole course of intervention is the classic way for a pathogen to become resistant to the intervention.  

SARS-CoV-19 is a Group IV positive-sense single-stranded RNA (+ssRNA) virus.  This means the virus can be directly translated (manufactured) by the cell's ribosomes into multiple copies.  Single strand RNA is more susceptible to change and single strand RNA is more likely to change.  Under evolutionary stress - vaccination - an organism with single strand RNA will evolve in response to that stress towards immunity to the vaccine.  The additional weeks is an opening for the virus to mutate a response.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 04:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I argued before, the notion and policy "to let her rip" - Herd Immunity by infection - we'll get your country credited with a mutant name born by the source: Brazil-South Africa-UK Kent ... and recognition by a hight body count. The US is lacking in genomic tracking and is not aware of the spread of new Covid-19 variants. Science has witnessed that that development or evolution of the Corona virus across the globe creates very similar strains as time evolves.

The story behind the UK's world-leading SARS-CoV-2 genomics capability | Cambridge |

by Oui on Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 at 06:02:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What options did Brazil and South Africa have?  They couldn't afford to vaccinate their populations even if the vaccine doses were available, which they weren't.  And aren't. Demand is vastly outstripping supply which Pfizer, et.al., told us would happen back in December.

The B.1.427 and B.1.429 ("California" sic) variants were discovered and sequenced in the US so I don't know what you mean by "the US is lacking in genomic tracking."  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Apr 4th, 2021 at 03:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is German politics getting tired of Ms. Ursula Von der Leyen ... for the second time?

Germany considers break with EU on 2022 vaccine orders | DW News |

German Health Minister Jens Spahn says the country must secure booster vaccines for 2022 -- even if that means acting independently from the European Union.

...
Speaking as Germany prepares to ramp up its vaccination program at family doctor practices across the country, he said securing supplies for the next year was vital.

"We need to secure production capacity also for 3rd and 4th shots of COVID-19 vaccine," said Spahn. For now we don't know how long protection will last. Nobody has been immunized longer than 12 months according to the first clinical studies. And nobody know how long it will last -- 12, 24 months, 5 years, 10 years."

"Nobody can rule out the need for repeat shots for immune reinforcement. Therefore we should secure capacity within the European Union framework -- if not done urgently, then nationally."

by Oui on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 06:50:02 PM EST
That all seems good common sense and something the Commission would be fully on board with. Why is this seen as an anti- vd Leyen move?

P.S. those countries most concerned at ensure a conservative approach to the EU vaccine procurement negotiations are now the countries most radical in their criticisms of the Commission. - e.g. Austria, Hungary

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 at 07:54:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last year Spahn was setting up a vaccine alliance with some other countries until he was told to call it off by Merkel. Instead, he was told to submit to the EC. The transaction went ahead in a somewhat Pollyannish way, buying vaccines like a regular customer instead of like an investor. Securing not just supplies but production capacity should have been the order of the day. The member states were too naive and too stingy. If this newfound vaccine nationalism (not too much) leads to more robust capacity then that can only be a good thing.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 at 01:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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