Boris Johnson sent a special envoy to Brussels to end the fierce confrontation with the vaccine, urged “international cooperation” and warned that a surge in Corona 19 cases in the EU would hit the UK.
Johnson said in a speech on Monday ahead of Britain’s first blockade anniversary that the UK and the EU were on the same ship. “Sadly there is a third wave going on on the continent right now,” he said.
“And people in this country are afraid that when waves hit our friends, they will be swept away on our shores as well.”
Tim Barrow, former British ambassador to the EU, was sent to Brussels to provide British support in efforts to tackle the upcoming vaccine war and increase production capacity.
The vaccine has emerged as the latest hot spot in relations between the EU and the UK as both sides deal with the consequences of the short supply of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca has committed to the UK and EU that it is impermissible. So you’ll need some sort of transaction.
London claims that the deal with AstraZeneca requires production from the EU as well as the UK plant first. However, the EU is equally resolute that it is entitled to both supply of AstraZeneca from Europe and shares from the two UK factories specified in its own contract.
Johnson recently held talks on vaccines with leaders, including German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Mark Long. The issue will be considered by European leaders at a summit that begins Thursday as Brussels discuss tighter controls on vaccine exports.
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the EU’s export ban would be a “retrograde stage”. He told RTE radio: “I am very against it. . . It is absolutely critical to open up the supply chain.”
Particular focus on the UK-EU talks is the competing demands of both sides for AstraZeneca with millions of capacities produced in Dutch factories operated by subcontractor Halix.
EU officials said the plant should deliver an undisclosed stockpile of Halix production in blocks as soon as it receives regulatory approval from the European Medicines Agency.
When asked if they were ready to give up some capacity at the Halix plant in Leiden, Downing Street expected the contract to be met, but insisted that there are other sources of supply.
“It’s a plant,” said Johnson. “It is also produced in the UK and in India.” Johnson’s former Chief of Staff Eddie Lister is based in India and is working to increase supply at the Serum Institute in the country.
One EU diplomat said: “AstraZeneca has promised both the UK and the EU that it is impractical. So you need some kind of trading. However, these Halix doses are in the EU and AstraZeneca needs permission to ship to the UK, so the cards are stacked against the UK.”
Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceutical division, claimed at a press conference that Halix was “a very small site in the entire supply chain,” adding: “For Europe, the largest sites so far are in the US and Belgium. ”
Frustrations with AstraZeneca boiled in the EU capital as the company repeatedly cut its delivery promises. The UK is also preparing a tighter vaccine supply in the coming weeks.
EU diplomats insisted that it would be in Britain’s interest to resolve the issue prior to the EU summit. “If the conflict continues, then, the EU leaders facing the third wave will not have much understanding of the British position.”
Video: Covid-19 and the vaccine business
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