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Coronavirus
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7124hr
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World

European Commission to defend vaccine plan as virus forces more curbs

  • The heaviest snow in years also added to woes in Europe with transport and infrastructure hit in Germany and Britain.
10 Feb 2021

BRUSSELS: The European Commission chief prepared to defend its stumbling vaccine rollout before the EU parliament on Wednesday as the pandemic's grip on the continent forced Greece into tightening a lockdown around its capital.

Europe has logged a third of the more than 2.3 million lives lost globally to the virus, which is spreading rapidly despite the start of vaccinations in many nations and forcing the reimposition of unpopular and economically punishing restrictions.

Leaders of the European Union have been engaged in bitter public rows with pharmaceutical firms over supply shortages, as they faced public anger and scrutiny over slow vaccination rollouts in member states.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was due to explain the EU's vaccine strategy to the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, with the bloc's leadership under growing pressure.

Vaccine supply issues have already caused a diplomatic row after AstraZeneca said it would not be able to immediately ship the doses it promised to Britain and the EU.

At the same time, the resurgence of infections across the continent is adding to the pressure on its leadership.

A stricter lockdown will be imposed in Greece from Thursday -- in particular in the Athens region -- said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, warning that his country was facing a third Covid-19 wave.

Wary of infection numbers exploding again, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek to extend strict curbs at least until the end of February as fatigue grows with the partial lockdown in Europe's top economy.

The heaviest snow in years also added to woes in Europe with transport and infrastructure hit in Germany and Britain.

Some coronavirus vaccination centres in England were forced to close -- including major hubs in Ipswich and Colchester.

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