Too late EU! Brussels warned it cannot escape ‘huge scandal’ over Brexit retaliation

EU vaccine rollout shortcomings addressed by von der Leyen

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The economic spokesman for League, Claudio Borghi, warned that if the EU’s “trade war” with the UK is at the core of EU countries’ decision to suspend the Oxford vaccine, the row will result in a “huge scandal” for the bloc.

The League MP, from Matteo Salvini’s party, lashed out against the bloc after more than a dozen member states suspended the use of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine on Monday.

He wrote: “The AstraZeneca question is simple: if the vaccine is safe and it’s a trade war against Britain, for the EU it’s a huge scandal.”

Mr Borghi also added that even if the move did not lie behind the UK’s decision to leave the bloc and AstraZeneca was unsafe to use as some in the EU have claimed, it would be an even bigger scandal for Brussels.

He added: “If the vaccine is not safe and the Swiss were right not to put it into circulation in the EU, it is an even bigger scandal.”

Switzerland never approved the use of the Oxford vaccine over concerns for its safety.

But despite speculations from EU governments over the efficacy of the vaccine, both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have repeatedly sworn over its safety.

The EMA said on Tuesday that there was still “no indication” that the vaccine was the cause of the “very rare” reported blood clots.

Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, told a press briefing: “The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”

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Ms Cooke said 30 cases of blood clots had been reported to the EMA by March 10 among almost five million people vaccinated, but additional cases had been reported over the weekend.

She said there would be an increase in the reporting of such cases due to the publicity surrounding the current reports.

The EMA is looking at the incidence of blood clots and some reports of abnormally low levels of blood platelets among some people who have had the jab.

Today, the European Union threatened to ban exports of COVID-19 vaccines to Britain to safeguard scarce doses for its own citizens facing a third wave of the pandemic that would jeopardise plans to restart travel this summer.

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With the number of COVID-related deaths in the EU topping 550,000 and less than a tenth of the bloc’s population inoculated, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the epidemiological situation was worsening.

She told reporters: “We are in the crisis of the century.

“We see the crest of a third wave forming in member states, and we know that we need to accelerate the vaccination rates.”

Ms von der Leyen said the flow of vaccine products was smooth with the United States but aired frustration over lack of deliveries from AstraZeneca in Britain.

She said 10 million doses had gone from EU plants to the former member state.

In the latest sign of souring ties between Britain and the 27-nation bloc since Brexit, the Commission chief added: “We are still waiting for doses to come from the UK.

“If this situation does not change, we will have to reflect on how to make exports to vaccine-producing countries dependent on their level of openness.

“We will reflect on whether exports to countries with higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.”

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