Boris Johnson calls Merkel to warn of ‘difficult road ahead’ in global vaccine rollout

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A bitter row broke out between the EU and the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company over whether they broke their vaccine deliverly commitments. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused the company of misrepresenting its contract with the bloc.

But now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken about resolving the ongoing vaccine dispute.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to German Chancellor Merkel this evening.

“The leaders discussed the difficult road ahead on the coronavius pandemic and agreed that governments should continue to work together to roll out vaccines around the world.

“They discussed the importance of support for the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme to ensure equitable vaccine acccess and resolved to cooperate closely throuhg the G7 and beyond on our shared fight against coronavirus.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel discussed efforts to tackle climate change and reduce global emissions.

“The Prime Minister welcomed German leadership in this area and looked forward to our governments working closely together in the run-up to the UK-hosted COP26 Summit.

“The leaders discussed a number of international issues including the situations in Afghanistan, Libya and Iran.

“The Prime Minister underlined the value of UK-German cooperation in these areas, both bilaterally and as NATO allies.”

The spokesperson went on to see how both leaders condemned Russia’s detention of Alexey Navalny, who was arrested upon his return to Moscow this year.

They continued: “Both leaders condemned Russia’s ongoing detention of Alexey Navalny.

“The Prime Minister reiterated the need for Russia to declare its Novichok programme and uphold its international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel looked foward to seeing one another as soon as the coronavirus situation allowed.”

Mr Navalny is a vocal critic of the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin and has continued to accuse the Russian President of the plot to poison him in August.

The Russian opposition politician was flown to Berlin after falling ill on a flight to Serbia and remained in a coma.

His team claim he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent and was discharged from hospital in September.

Berlin said tests in Germany, France and Sweden confirmed Mr Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

Following news of his poisoning, the West demanded an explanation from Russia – who have continued to deny any involvement.

The name Novichok applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

Novichok agents block messages from the nerves to the muscles, causing the collapse of many bodily functions.

They were reportedly designed to be more toxic than other chemical weapons but some versions can take effect rapidly from 30 seconds to two minutes.

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