France accused of delaying EU order for 1.8 billion vaccine doses
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In signs of an EU rift, German daily Die Welt on Friday reported that France was blocking an order from the bloc for 1.8 billion doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, planned for the next two years.
The newspaper spoke to EU diplomats who said French companies may wish to play a bigger role in the production of vaccines.
In an effort to provide vaccines for children and booster shots for adults by the end of the year, the European Commission is negotiating the delivery of doses from the Germany-American drug manufacturing duo.
Any order would require the unanimous approval of all European Union member states. Die Welt said that massive global demand for vaccines and booster shots had led EU governments to worry that Brussels may miss out.
"That would be a disaster for which France would be responsible," an unnamed EU diplomat told Die Welt.
While Europe's Covid vaccination campaign has been gathering pace, fears of aggressive new variants have seen many countries reinforce their vaccine supplies.
Throughout France the number of coronavirus infections is continuing to fall, with plans on track to open shops, museums, cinemas and restaurant terrasses in the coming weeks.
President Emmanuel Macron has made access to vaccines available for all adults in the event of unused doses. From 12 May, surplus doses will be available to people regardless of their age.
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In a late Twitter post Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Véran said "a new bar" had been crossed, with a record 600,000 people vaccinated in 24 hours.
Meanwhile the number of people in intensive care in France has dropped by about 500 over the past week to just over 5,000.
In total, some 27,000 Covid patients remain in French hospitals.
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