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EU threat to block Covid-19 vaccine exports raises tensions with UK

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Tensions are rising between the European Union and the United Kingdom over threats from the European Commission to block vaccine exports from the EU.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace issued a warning to the commission on Sunday, saying any attempt to block coronavirus vaccine exports to the UK would be counterproductive.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stepped up her rhetoric this weekend, saying the EU has the power to curb exports, adding: This is the message for AstraZeneca. The warning reflects growing frustration that the EU is not getting the supplies it expected from the British-Swedish manufacturer.

EU Commissioner Maired McGuinness said no decision has been made but EU leaders will consider the issue when they meet on Thursday.

European citizens are getting angry and upset with the fact that vaccine use did not happen as quickly as we had anticipated, she told BBC1s Andrew Marr Show.

Transparent

Both the EU and the UK have contracts with AstraZeneca and my understanding is that the company is supplying the UK but not the European Union.

We are supplying the UK with other vaccines, so I think this is only about openness and transparency.

Mr Wallace, however, responded by warning that production of the Pfizer vaccine depends on supplies from the UK.

The grown-up thing would be for the European Commission and some of the European leaders not to be content with rhetoric, but to recognize the obligations we all have, he told the Andrew Marr Show.

We will all keep each other in our contracts. Making a vaccine is like baking a cake. We all have different ingredients and the European Commission will know this.

You made the point about Pfizer. They will know you do not want to cut your nose to oppose your face.

Speaking earlier in the day to Sky Newss Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said the EU would suffer serious reputational damage if it tried to interfere with vaccine exports.

If contracts and companies are broken, this is a very damaging thing that should happen to a trade bloc that prides itself on the rule of law, he said.

On Saturday, Ms von der Leyen said AstraZeneca could face export bans to countries outside the EU if the company does not expedite the delivery of vaccines on the block.

We have the opportunity to stop planned exports. This is the message for AstraZeneca: you first fulfill your contract with Europe, before you start sending to other countries, Ms. von der Leyen told a German newspaper.

Ms von der Leyen said the contract between the EU and AstraZeneca clearly stipulates how much EU vaccine is set to be received from AstraZeneca factories within the EU and in the UK.

Ms von der Leyen said: “We did not receive anything from the British while we were distributing the vaccines. She said the commission had sent an official reminder to AstraZeneca about the issue.

“I can not explain to European citizens why we are exporting millions of doses of vaccines to countries that produce their own vaccines and do not send us anything back,” she said.

The third wave

The British government denies Brusselss’s claim that London is operating a de facto export ban to achieve its vaccine success.

Ms von der Leyens’ warning comes as the EU struggles to accelerate the spread of Covid-19 vaccines at a time when many member states are facing a third wave of coronavirus, prompting some countries to impose new restrictions.

As of February 1, 41 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been shipped from the EU to 33 countries, most of which were shipped to the UK and some to the US, which has a vaccine export ban.

The US export ban is raising concerns about the EU entering the Johnson & Johnson single vaccine, which is expected to be shipped in April.

The AstraZenecas coronavirus vaccine is one of three approved for use in the EU.

However, its use has been overshadowed by several problems, including a slow start, recurrent birth problems and a temporary ban for a few days in many EU countries earlier this week, following reports of blood clots. in some vaccine recipients.

PA / Reuters

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