Thanks, Ursula! UK’s booming vaccine programme has EU chief VDL to thank, says expert

UK 'must not let guard down on European travel' says expert

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Prominent financial columnist Matthew Lynn said, prior to the Covid pandemic, Britain was never a major vaccine supplier. That all changed last month when Brussels threatened to block exports of Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine in a jealous rage over Brexit Britain’s rollout success.

This prompted the UK’s pharmaceutical industry to go into overdrive, ushering in a new era in which Britain has become a major vaccine manufacturer.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said: “The UK has not been a major manufacturer of vaccines, but the bullying and threats from Brussels means we soon will be.

“In effect, there has been an ‘Ursula dividend’ as the UK works out it cannot rely on supplies from the other side of the English Channel, and needs to make more stuff at home.”

He added: “It is hard to see many tangible achievements from the EU’s decision last summer to take control of the Continent’s procurement of potential Covid-19 vaccines.

“It ordered too few of the wrong shots, failed to invest in production, dithered on authorisations, undermined confidence in the only one it bought in quantity, and then lashed out at the companies making the vaccines in a blind panic.

“The result has been a woeful vaccination campaign, falling behind such advanced, technologically savvy countries as, er, Morocco and Turkey, and a third wave of Covid is now engulfing the Continent. It hasn’t been great.

“What it has achieved is turning Britain into a major vaccine player for the first time. Although the UK has a world-class life sciences sector, we were not big on making vaccines.

“India, China, and of course the United States were far more significant on the global stage, while in Europe, France and Belgium were much bigger players.”

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Mr Lynn said if this same logic is applied to other industries, post-Brexit Britain could reinvigorate flagging sectors while simultaneously creating new ones.

He added: “But it doesn’t stop there. The same logic will apply to a range of industries, from power, to transport, to financial services and food.

“As the EU turns increasingly aggressive and protectionist, supply chains will shorten, and plenty of money will be available for ramping up domestic production.

“That is a huge potential opportunity – all British business has to do now is seize it.”

The influential columnist spoke as vaccine nationalism continues to plague the EU.

After repeatedly criticising other countries, including the UK, for allegedly engaging in it, it moved to block exports to countries with higher vaccination rates than its own.

Ms von der Leyen only backtracked when Downing Street reacted with fury and the scandal risked sparking a damaging trade war.

The spat has done little to mask the EU’s terrible efforts to vaccinate its population.

It is currently lagging far behind the UK and US with some EU states even forced to go back into an unprecedented third national lockdown to try and contain the virus.

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