Published: Sat, January 30, 2021
Economy | By

EU vaccine export rules prompt UK outcry

EU vaccine export rules prompt UK outcry

The EU on Friday imposed restrictions on exports of COVID-19 vaccines outside the bloc, forcing European vaccine distributors to inform authorities about every supply contract signed with countries outside the EU and to obtain permission before exporting the jabs, as well, as "to provide information on their exports, export destinations and quantities". Seeking to control the export of vaccines undercuts the EU's basic ethics.

"The commission is not triggering the safeguard clause", it said in its statement, adding that the restricting regulations have yet to be finalized and won't be adopted before Saturday.

"We are aware of the issue and the Taoiseach (prime minister) is now in discussions with European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen to express our concerns", a spokesman for Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said.

It comes as the contract between the Commission and AstraZeneca has been published, as a row over supply continues.

The original plan was to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines to over-70s beginning with the over-85s through their Global Positioning System. I expect the company to deliver these doses as agreed, so that Europeans can be vaccinated as soon as possible.

AstraZeneca has been making large quantities of its vaccine in Britain, but has said a contract it signed with the British government requires it to fulfil Britain's order before it can send doses manufactured there overseas, including to the EU.

A separate study testing the AstraZeneca vaccine in the still underway.

Kate Bingham, the former head of Britain's vaccine taskforce, said the country had been able to secure supplies by supporting pharmaceutical companies, setting up clinical trials quickly and helping firms procure equipment to increase manufacturing. Brussels temporally banned vaccine exports, as 13 percent of Britons have already been jabbed compared to 2 percent in EU. The "vaccine export transparency mechanism" will be used at least until the end of March to control shipments to non-EU countries. Many doctors have been urging a new nationwide shutdown like those imposed in several other European countries.

Donations to COVAX, designed for poorer countries, will be exempted, as will a large number of European Union neighbours, including Norway, Switzerland and countries of the western Balkans and North Africa.

Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other WHO officials warned of supply-chain disruptions that could ripple through the world and potentially stall the fight against COVID-19. Advance purchase agreements need to be respected.

Earlier, the 27-nation bloc and AstraZeneca made public a heavily redacted version of their vaccine deal that's at the heart of a dispute over the delivery schedule.

The revelation threw the EU's rollout plans, which included 400 million AstraZeneca doses, into chaos as the continent's death toll mounted.

Many companies in Europe are running short or may have run short of the vaccine.

The restrictions give European Union citizens priority and ensure the pharmaceutical giants seek approval before sending doses overseas.

Much of the 41-page document made public was blacked out, making it very hard to establish which side is in the right.

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