In my last essay dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, I spoke about the newly found courage on the part of the Belgian federal authorities to ‘do the right thing’ and introduce a well devised and limited confinement to turn back the Second Wave of Covid infections that struck the country in October and threatened to wreak havoc. It is reasonable to say that the infection rate, hospitalization rate, ICU occupancy rate and mortality rates have been stable in the country for the past several weeks at a higher level than was hoped for but at a far lower level than was feared. In my Covid 19 update essay I noted that the immediate problem of combatting the pandemic in Belgium is the snail’s pace at which the vaccination program has been rolled out, and I pointed a finger in the direction of the European Institutions for letting down Belgium and the other Member States by their incompetent handling of the procurement of vaccines.
I was only a few weeks ahead of others in noting this disgrace. Now our newspapers and airwaves are full of condemnation of EU institutions for fumbling the ball, for falling far behind the United Kingdom, Israel and even…remarkably behind the United States which we all knew was until 20 January run by the infantile Donald Trump and his minders who took no heed of science.
To be specific, Belgium, now declares that 250,000 citizens have received their first jab of the vaccine, amounting to roughly 2% of the population and concentrated virtually exclusively in the population of nursing home/long term care patients and staff. When the second priority group of over 65s will be invited to the vaccination centers no one can say. Belgium shares this miserable vaccination to population rate with virtually all other EU States. Meanwhile the UK has run ahead with more than 10% of the general population vaccinated and 80% of the oldest citizens already served. The United States is just behind the UK in its success.
As I said in my last essay, the “buck stops” at the desk of the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who was a failed Minister of Defense in Germany surrounded by scandals and who was promoted for her post by Emmanuel Macron for reasons that not many people understood other than that she was a fluent French speaker and was not being promoted by her boss Angela Merkel.
The buck also stops, of course, at the desk of Council President Charles Michel, whose tenure as Belgian prime minister was less than impressive, whose ideological stubbornness over the wrong cause – unlimited migration into the EU- brought down the government and whose main claim to his office was that he was his father’s son. No, Mr. Michel, we do not forget your incompetence and ideological bent now, when competence, courage and pragmatism are precisely what is needed to save lives by daring action.
For those who decried Trump’s lack of appreciation for Science, let me remind them that it is precisely the scientific caution of the advisory body to the EU on approval of vaccines that is behind the present catastrophic shortage of vaccines. The EU authorities have let the scientists take decisions that are, in the final analysis, political and not technocratic. They have been terribly slow in granting authorization for use of any of the vaccines that are now being distributed in the world. They have created a non-tariff barrier to importation, distribution and use of these life-saving medicines.
In the USA Trump ran roughshod over the opinion of the FDA, over the office of Dr. Fauci, and the result has been vastly better than the Science-respecting European Union politicians have wrought.
And, in conclusion, I want to add one further dimension to my condemnation of the EU leaders for depriving us of the vaccines that could save lives right now and could prevent the development of new and still more threatening mutations of Covid-19 by creating herd immunity and shutting down replication. Remember, no replication means no mutations.
The further dimension is once again ideological – the stubborn, self-destructive refusal to cooperate with Russia, and with China, to make their vaccines available to the European public and so speed up greatly the immunization process. From mass media reports that the Russians had stolen the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which like all such reporting is done in the service of press releases coming from the respective ministries of propaganda, to the reports that the Russian vaccine was not supported by release of technical data on the tests of Phase 3 comparable to data put out by Western producers, there has been a concerted campaign to frustrate any cooperation with the big neighbor to the East that is, in effect, abuse of power by EU leaders to the detriment of the European population.
Now that there is a hue and cry in a number of states, and I think in particular of the latest denunciation of EU practices on the vaccination coming from the Minister President of Bavaria, who happens to be a leading candidate to replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor, I hope that the issues sketched above will be treated with the seriousness they deserve and that the offending leaders will be called to account. Europe may not have “impeachment” but many countries do have “recall.” It should be applied to the current top office holders of the EU Institutions.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2021