EU vaccine row: Export ban would ‘badly’ stall UK immunisation drive – analysis

Vaccine: Expert says Italy and Germany may operate alone

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Britain’s immunisation drive would be “badly” delayed if the EU decided to impose the restriction, according to a report by the Guardian. Leaders of the 27 EU member states are set to discuss the potential ban on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to speak to European heads of government ahead of Thursday’s showdown.

Government insiders told Press Association that last week the Prime Minister held discussions with Dutch and Belgian prime ministers Mark Rutte and Alexander De Croo, as well as European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

On Sunday, the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, warned the EU that an export ban was a “very damaging” move and that it would tarnish its reputation.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “If contracts get broken, and undertakings, that is a very damaging thing to happen for a trading bloc that prides itself on the rule of law.

“It is counterproductive because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacture is that it is collaborative.

“They would undermine not only their own citizens’ chances of having a proper vaccine programme, but also many other countries around the world, with the reputational damage for the EU which they would find very hard to change over the short term.”

His remarks came as a response to Ms Von der Leyen’s claims that the bloc was weighing up “all options” and would impose emergency controls on vaccine production if needed.

The news comes after the EU refuted calls for AstraZeneca jabs produced at a Dutch site to be delivered to the UK, according to an official.

The Leiden-based AstraZeneca factory is run by sub-contractor Halix and is contracted to provide vaccine doses for both the UK and the EU.

An EU official argued that all jabs at the Dutch plant must be delivered to European nations.

The source told Reuters: “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn’t work.”

They added: “What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU.”

According to officials, AstraZeneca has only delivered a third of the 90 million vaccine doses it promised the EU during the first quarter of this year, while sticking to its UK targets.

They alleged the British-Swedish company gave the UK priority over the EU.

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