EU vaccine shame: Brussels plots to pinch UK’s supply of Covid jabs as Britain soars ahead

Boris Johnson: EU expected to honour vaccine exports to UK

Eurocrats suggested that AstraZeneca, the maker of the Oxford vaccine, could use supplies destined for Britain to fulfil a “precise delivery schedules” to EU states. Brussels bosses are furious with the UK-based firm after it said it would have to slash the number of doses sent to capitals. Diplomatic sources have claimed that vaccines meant for the EU have gone to the UK instead.

An insider said: “There are people in Brussels who think that vaccines originally supposed to build up the EU vaccine stock and to be delivered to the EU after market authorisation have actually ended up in Britain.

“As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t come forward with an explanation about where the vaccine doses ended up, it is difficult to put an end to this suspicion.”

A European Commission spokesman didn’t deny the claims.

He added: “The Commission always insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which member states should be planning their vaccination programmes, subject to the granting of a conditional marketing authorisation.

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“The matter will be discussed at tomorrow steering board meeting.

“We will reevaluate the state of play after this meeting.”

It was claimed this issue had been raised in a crisis meeting between the EU’s top health officials and AstraZeneca’s bosses.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides conceded the firm had offered a “lack of clarity and insufficient explanations” on how to increase its supply to the Continent.

The row erupted after the Anglo-Swedish firm said it would have to cut supplies to the bloc by 60 percent because of production hiccups.

The row prompted a Commission spokesman to admit officials are “worried” by the slow rollout of Covid jabs across the bloc.

He said: “How worried are we about the state of vaccinations? We are worried, that is for sure.”

Amid the growing frustrations, EU chiefs have drawn up plans to control exports of vaccines to outside the bloc.

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Mrs von der Leyen yesterday warned that Brussels “means business” in addressing the row.

She insisted pharmaceutical firms should supply the bloc in return for millions of euros invested “to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines”.

The European Commission president said: “And now companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations.

“This is why we will set up a vaccine export mechanism. Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business.”

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Vaccine row: Commentator says EU is ‘playing tit-for-tat’

German health minister Jen Spahn said Brussels should only allow firms to export their Covid jabs outside of the EU after securing a permit.

He said: “It makes sense that we have an export restriction.

“That means that vaccines that leave the European Union need a permit so that we can first of all know what is being manufactured in Europe, what is leaving Europe, where it is leaving Europe for and whether it is then also a fair distribution.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I don’t want to see restrictions on the supply of PPE across borders, restrictions on the supply of drugs, restrictions on vaccines or their ingredients. I think that’s pretty common sensical and I’m sure would be widely supported across the EU as well.”

German MEP Gunnar Beck said Britain’s successful vaccine scheme was a “nightmare” for Commission bosses.

He said: “The slow dysfunctional approach has been a huge failure for the Commission.

“It’s a nightmare for the EU that Brexit Britain’s vaccine scheme is working better than the EU’s.”

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