UK may stop shipping vaccines to the EU warns expert
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European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to block the export of coronavirus vaccines to the UK amid an ongoing row over the supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. The European Commission president criticised the British-Swedish firm on Wednesday for having “underproduced and underdelivered” to the bloc. But political expert Philip Turle claimed the bloc is “jealous” of the UK’s vaccination figures.
Speaking to France 24, Mr Turle said: “I don’t think the EU is going to go all the way because it simply knows that if it does stop shipping vaccines to the UK.
“The UK will stop shipping vaccines back to the EU even if it hasn’t shipped any so far but the EU does have the means to stop shipping vaccines.
“There is a clause in the EU Treaty, Article 122 a ban on exports, whether they’ll actually allow that remains to be seen.
“Now that the UK is not in the EU anymore it’s an easy target.
“There’s a certain jealousy amongst EU members about the 25 million who have been vaccinated in the UK compared to seven million in France.”
Downing Street urged the EU to “stand by its commitment” not to restrict exports, with the Pfizer jab being produced in BioNTech’s German manufacturing sites as well as in Pfizer’s own site in Belgium.
Under pressure and with parts of the EU on the “crest of a third wave” of infections, Ms von der Leyen warned she is “ready to use whatever tool we need” to ensure the reliable delivery of vaccines.
She told reporters in Brussels: “We are exporting a lot to countries that are themselves producing vaccines and we think this is an invitation to be open, so that we also see exports from those countries coming back to the European Union.
“The second point that is of importance to us: we will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.
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“We want reliable deliveries of vaccines, we want increase in the contracts, we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports and we are ready to use whatever tool we need to deliver on that.
“This is about making sure that Europe gets its fair share.”
She defended the EU against a charge of “vaccine nationalism”, arguing the bloc has granted 314 requests for vaccine exports and has only refused one since export authorisation was introduced on February 1.
Ms von der Leyen said “41 million doses have been exported to 33 countries” as she warned “open roads run in both directions”.
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The EU rate of vaccine doses administered per 100 people stands at 11.81, according to a tracker on the Our World In Data website.
This compares to the UK’s rate of 39.04 and the US’s 33.11.
Ms von der Leyen made clear the UK is not a nation where she deems there is “reciprocity” in terms of vaccine supply, describing it as “country number one” in terms of exports from the EU.
“Where the UK is concerned, we have observed that in the last six weeks 10 million doses by now have been exported to the UK,” she said.
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