Published: Fri, March 19, 2021
Tech | By

European Union chief warns of action to protect pledged vaccine supplies

European Union chief warns of action to protect pledged vaccine supplies

AstraZeneca's formula is one of three vaccines in use on the continent.

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

Relations between Britain and the European Union have become increasingly fractious in the context of Britain's departure from the bloc's orbit at the start of the year, while the European Union is lagging behind Britain with its vaccine rollout.

This was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference in Brussels.

Britain is rolling out vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca, with 10 million doses of the 100 million ordered from AstraZeneca coming from the Serum Institute in India.

He said: 'I was surprised and disappointed by those comments but the Prime Minister had spoken earlier in the year to Ursula von der Leyen and she gave a very clear commitment which was that the European Union would not engage in this sort of activity, that contractual responsibilities would be honoured and that is exactly what we intend to do and I hope and expect the European Union to stick to their side of the bargain as well.

"Our UK domestic supply chain is not experiencing any disruption and there is no impact on our delivery schedule", said a spokesman for the firm, which makes the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford.

"This is why we need to ensure that there is reciprocity and proportionality".

But he added: "Frankly, I'm surprised we're having this conversation".

She added: "In other words, we want reliable deliveries of vaccines, we want to 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".

Further complicating matters, various European Union nations including its largest members Germany, France and Italy this week halted AstraZeneca shots pending safety checks.

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.

Johnson replied: "Perhaps the best thing I can say about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine programme is that I finally got the news that I'm going to get my own jab very, very shortly, I'm pleased to discover".

In response, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Commission had questions to answer over the issue, "because the world is watching".

Several EU nations are waiting for reassurance from the bloc's medicines regulator, due tomorrow, before restarting use of the AZ jab.

Downing Street pointed to an apparent commitment received from Ms von der Leyen as the European Union backtracked on its widely-condemned move to impose vaccine controls by overriding part of the Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland.

"A pharmaceutical company that seems to have met its contractual obligations to the United Kingdom and the USA but not to the EU".

However, the sluggish inoculation campaign threatens plans announced by the Commission to launch "green digital certificate" that would collate information on vaccinations, tests and Covid recovery to let travellers cross borders freely again in the European bloc. But countries including France, Belgium and Germany have voiced scepticism.

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