Saturday, 19 June, 2021


UK warns EU vaccine export ban would be 'counter-productive'

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen
Kristine Garrett | 22 March, 2021, 16:39

In comments published on Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to seize control of the production of the AstraZeneca jab if the British-Swedish pharma company does not prioritise European contracts ahead of others.

For the second quarter of 2021, AstraZeneca will only deliver 70 million doses, less than half of the 180 million it was contractually obliged to deliver, she said.

She said: "Both the EU and the United Kingdom have contracts with AstraZeneca and my understanding is the company is supplying the United Kingdom but not the European Union".

Von der Leyen had strongly campaigned for providing vaccines to people worldwide back in spring 2020.

Ms von der Leyen later warned that Italy's action was "not a one-off", predicting other European Union countries will follow suit in seizing vaccine supplies.

HE said the European Union was "stating clear facts" regarding the amount of vaccine being exported form the European Union to countries that are not manufacturing them for export to Europe.

The European Commission threatened on Wednesday to ban exports to countries like Britain that have higher vaccination rates but do not export shots to the EU.

She called on other countries to reciprocate the EU's openness and said the bloc was inviting national leaders for discussion.

That would mean that even if Mr Rutte did not want to impose the export ban, he would be powerless to stop it.

The EU is "quite right" to consider preventing vaccines from being exported outside the bloc, according to a Fine Gael TD.

Beyond criticism for its slow deliveries, notably in Europe, AstraZeneca also has had to deal with reports of unsafe blood clots in some recipients of its shot, although the company and global regulators say there is no evidence the vaccine is to blame.

This new wave comes in the midst of controversy over the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the continent, and the EU's chaotic vaccination programme.

The lockdown is due to last at least four weeks after the country reported 35,000 new cases yesterday - with more patients in intensive care in Paris than at the beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier today Professor Jeremy Brown from the UK's vaccination committee said people across Europe will die from Covid-19 as a direct outcome of the decision to halt the rollout of the AstraZeneca version.

"It is counterproductive (to halt exports of vaccines) because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacture is that it is collaborative", he said.

'We all need to work together to get through this.

France, Germany, Italy and Denmark are also said to support the idea of a ban to force "reciprocity" on Britain. "It is of paramount importance that Brussels, London and AstraZeneca reach a deal promptly on the vaccines produced by the company in facilities falling under both contracts".

At Prime Minister's Questions this lunchtime, Boris Johnson was asked by Tory MP Steve Brine about the "disinformation and apparent abandonment of scientific evidence in certain European Union member states around the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab".

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