EU's vaccine failure is because it didn't 'shoot for the stars,' Macron says

French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after visiting a pharmacy amid COVID-19 pandemic in Valenciennes, France March 23, 2021. Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – European leaders failed to see that COVID-19 vaccines would be developed as soon as they were and this was why rollouts in the EU now lagged behind some other countries, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

“Everybody, all the experts said: Never in the history of mankind was a vaccine developed in less than a year,” Macron told Greek television channel ERT.

“We didn’t shoot for the stars. That should be a lesson for all of us. We were wrong to lack ambition, to lack the madness, I would say, to say: It’s possible, let’s do it,” Macron said, in a rare admission of failure in the pandemic.

European Union leaders are struggling to speed up vaccinations, trailing countries like Britain and the United Sattes and facing supply delays.

Macron himself has been criticised at home for a faltering rollout which has been slowed by bureaucracy and public mistrust of vaccines.

“We didn’t think it would happen that quickly… You can give that to the Americans, as early as the summer of 2020 they said: let’s pull out all the stops and do it,” Macron said.

“As far as we’re concerned, we didn’t go fast enough, strong enough on this. We thought the vaccines would take time to take off.”

The EU tightened its oversight of coronavirus vaccine exports on Wednesday, giving it greater scope to block shipments to countries with higher inoculation rates such as Britain, or which are not sharing doses they produce.

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