European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has addressed the European Union's sluggish vaccine rollout, saying that by next month, a lot more vaccines will be available.
Speaking to German newspaper “Stuttgarter Nachrichten,” on Sunday, von der Leyen said that "science has virtually overtaken industry with its record time in vaccine development," and that "we all underestimated that ramping up stable mass production involves considerable risks."
Von der Leyen's comments come as the European Union's 27-nation vaccine strategycontinues to splinter as member states turn to nations outside the bloc to boost a faltering rollout plagued by supply issues, contract skirmishes and sluggish takeup.
"Eliminating bottlenecks in raw materials or in supply chains as quickly as possible was harder and bumpier than expected. That's why it was very slow at the beginning. Things have improved significantly. In January, around 20 million doses were delivered, in February around 30, and for March we expect around 50. From April, according to the manufacturers' plans, volumes could double again, partly because further vaccines are about to be approved," she said.
“The lesson from all this is, we need to have production capacity on hand for pandemics. And cohesion in a crisis is important. I can't even imagine how things would look in Europe today if a few large countries now perhaps had vaccines and most of the smaller member states had been left empty-handed for the time being," she said.
"That would have torn Europe apart and destroyed the single market on which we all live," she said, adding: "That's why I remain deeply convinced that the European approach was the right one."