A storm is raging over the European Union’s failure to have ordered more of the approved COVID-19 vaccines ahead of time. Stephane Bancel, the CEO of the U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna, which gained approval for its vaccine shortly after Pfizer/BioNTech, claims that the EU has relied too much on “vaccines from its own laboratories.”

Did the European Commission prioritize supporting its own pharmaceutical industry over protecting human lives? In fact, matters aren’t so simple. Contrary to what Bancel wants us to believe, the EU has actually ordered too little of its own vaccine. After all, the vaccine that is being administered most widely across the West was developed by a German company, BioNTech, and thus comes from the EU (though it was tested and partly produced in partnership with Pfizer in the United States and with Fosun Pharma in China).

Far from having ordered too little of the American vaccine, the EU sat back while the United States and other countries stocked up on doses of a vaccine that was created and produced in a German lab. The EU is guilty not of protectionism, but of institutional inflexibility. The slow vaccine rollout in many European countries is the result of the EU’s failure to coordinate the interests of the various member states. Whereas some countries balked at the price of BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, others were skeptical about its new gene-based technological underpinnings. Still others simply did not recognize the urgency of the situation, having assumed that the worst of the pandemic had already passed.