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Vaccine distribution in the fight against COVID-19 has been running into roadblocks in multiple countries. At the end of 2020, a variety of vaccines were approved for use and countries began plans to distribute them to people. The UK was the first western country to approve and begin vaccinating people. However, other countries lagged behind and the distribution hasn’t been as rapid as had been anticipated.

In the US, once Joe Biden became president it transpired that the Trump administration had no plan for vaccine distribution. After taking office, President Biden’s team said that the Trump administration hadn’t done any work to create a distribution plan. They said they had to start from scratch. President Biden also had to order 200 million more doses of the vaccine because the previous administration had not ordered them. This has created delays as the doses cannot be delivered to the US until the summer.

In Europe, leaders have been locked in a war of words with drug makers. EU leaders have been incensed by the fact that drug makers have had to delay the shipments of vaccines to EU countries, creating delays in the European vaccination plan. As EU leaders blamed the drug companies for not keeping to their delivery schedule, one AstraZeneca representative blamed the EU for the delays. The representative said the EU hesitated in submitting their order. He said the UK ordered their doses 2-3 months ahead of the EU and that this delay in ordering the vaccines is what has led to the delivery problems that the company has been facing.

The delays in Europe led to a minor crisis between the EU and the UK. In a desperate attempt to secure vaccines for the EU, leaders blocked exports of doses to the UK. The doses were being manufactured in the EU and sent to the UK because the UK had ordered them first. The block on vaccine exports caused outrage amongst leaders in the UK and other countries and the EU was forced into a quick u-turn. The drastic measure from the EU appeared to further damage already fraught relations between the UK and the EU and led to crisis discussions between the EU and vaccine maker AstraZeneca. The two parties are now trying to come to an arrangement for getting vaccines to the EU as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the head of the WHO has warned countries that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until poorer countries are able to get their hands on the vaccines. He warned that rich countries are currently buying up all of the supplies and effectively locking out smaller countries from getting the vaccines. He said it would be unfair for young, healthy people in rich countries to start getting vaccinated before vulnerable people in poorer countries. He has called on richer countries to commit to sharing their doses with poorer countries so they can start their vaccination distribution. He said the current situation was close to a “catastrophic moral failure”. He challenged UN member states to ensure that vaccines are being distributed in every country by April.

Difficult words

Roadblock (n): A barrier or obstacle stopping you from doing something.

Lag (v): To delay or take longer than it should.

Transpire (v): To become known.

Scratch (adj): Being homemade, or starting from the very beginning.

Incensed (adj): Very angry, enraged.

U-turn (n): A complete turn around.

Fraught (adj): To be full or filled with something, usually something negative/ causing stress or anxiety.

Catastrophic (adj): Disastrous or tragic.

Moral (adj): Concerned with ethics, the principals of what is right and wrong.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. RoadblockA. Homemade
2. LagB. Disastrous
3. TranspireC. Turn around.
4. ScratchD. Known
5. IncensedE. Ethical
6. U-turnF. Obstacle
7. FraughtG. Enrage
8. CatastrophicH. Filled
9. MoralI. Delay

True or False?

1. Only one country has faced roadblocks in its vaccine distribution. T / F

2. The US was the first western country to begin vaccinating people. T / F

3. Donald Trump had no plan for vaccination distribution. T / F

4. President Biden’s administration had to start from scratch on a distribution plan. T / F

5. EU leaders have been very satisfied with the drug makers delivering the vaccines. T / F

6. The UK ordered their vaccines months ahead of the EU. T / F

7. The UK blocked all vaccines going to the EU. T / F

8. Relations are currently positive between the UK and EU. T / F

9. The WHO is concerned about poorer countries getting the vaccines. T / F

10. The UN has agreed to distribute vaccines evenly around the world. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

  1. the / were / a / 2020, / of / end / variety / At / approved / vaccines / of

2. they / They / from / had / start / scratch / said / to

3. doses / 200 million / more / to / had / President Biden / also / order

4. representative / The / their / in / order / said / the EU / hesitated / submitting

5. to / delays / Europe / minor / The / in / led / a / crisis

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio:

AttemptBecameLocked
ArrangementApproveHesitated
DistributionEffectivelyPrevious

Vaccine (1)_____________ in the fight against COVID-19 has been running into roadblocks in multiple countries. At the end of 2020, a variety of vaccines were approved for use and countries began plans to distribute them to people. The UK was the first western country to (2)__________ and begin vaccinating people. However, other countries lagged behind and the distribution hasn’t been as rapid as had been anticipated.

In the US, once Joe Biden (3)____________ President it transpired that the Trump administration had no plan for vaccine distribution. After taking office, President Biden’s team said that the Trump administration hadn’t done any work to create a distribution plan. They said they had to start from scratch. President Biden also had to order 200 million more doses of the vaccine because the (4)____________ administration had not ordered them. This has created delays as the doses cannot be delivered to the US until the summer.

In Europe, leaders have been (5)___________ in a war of words with drug makers. EU leaders have been incensed by the fact that drug makers have had to delay the shipments of vaccines to EU countries, creating delays in the European vaccination plan. As EU leaders blamed the drug companies for not keeping to their delivery schedule, one AstraZeneca representative blamed the EU for the delays. The representative said the EU (6)_____________ in submitting their order. He said the UK ordered their doses 2-3 months ahead of the EU and that this delay in ordering the vaccines is what has led to the delivery problems that the company has been facing.

The delays in Europe led to a minor crisis between the EU and the UK. In a desperate (7)____________ to secure vaccines for the EU, leaders blocked exports of doses to the UK. The doses were being manufactured in the EU and sent to the UK because the UK had ordered them first. The block on vaccine exports caused outrage amongst leaders in the UK and other countries and the EU was forced into a quick u-turn. The drastic measure from the EU appeared to further damage already fraught relations between the UK and the EU and led to crisis discussions between the EU and vaccine maker AstraZeneca. The two parties are now trying to come to an (8)________________ for getting vaccines to the EU as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the head of the WHO has warned countries that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until poorer countries are able to get their hands on the vaccines. He warned that rich countries are currently buying up all of the supplies and (9)______________ locking out smaller countries from getting the vaccines. He said it would be unfair for young, healthy people in rich countries to start getting vaccinated before vulnerable people in poorer countries. He has called on richer countries to commit to sharing their doses with poorer countries so they can start their vaccination distribution. He said the current situation was close to a “catastrophic moral failure”. He challenged UN member states to ensure that vaccines are being distributed in every country by April.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Has your country had any problems with vaccine distribution?
5. When do you think you will be able to get the vaccine?
6. Was the EU wrong to block the vaccines going to the UK?
7. Should the UK share their vaccines with the EU despite the EU ordering theirs later?
8. Why do you think some Asian countries are waiting to give their vaccines?
9. Should richer countries be sharing their vaccines with poorer countries?
10. Do you think your country would be willing to share vaccines with another country?
11. Do you think another country should help your country get vaccines?
12. Do you think most people in your country want to get the vaccine?
13. Should richer countries put vulnerable people in poorer countries before their own healthier/younger people?
14. When do you think the world will be 100% back to normal?
15. Do you think the vaccine companies are doing a good job?
16. Do you know which vaccines are being used in your country?
17. What should happen with countries that can’t afford to buy vaccines for their people?
18. Do you think your country has done a good job with the coronavirus?
19. What is the current coronavirus situation in your country?
20. Do you think the vaccine will make everything back to normal?