Vaccine exports: European Union 'quite right' to take tough stance on pharma companies

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Ms. von der Leyen said she hopes that will clarify the situation.

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson believed there was any justification for Brussels to use emergency powers to seize control of vaccination production and distribution, he said: "We expect the European Union to stand by its commitments".

Britain has the fifth highest death toll from the coronavirus pandemic, but has one of the quickest vaccine rollouts among large countries, with over 25 million people given a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

He argued that Ms von der Leyen's sabre-rattling was actually an attempt to motivate member states to "get their act together" and accelerate the rollout of jabs.

The EU threatened on Wednesday to ban exports of COVID-19 vaccines to Britain to safeguard scarce doses for its own citizens, and Jenrick said the threat from European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen was disappointing.

Ministers yesterday condemned Brussels" "brinkmanship" after Ms von der Leyen complained the bloc is sending millions of doses to other countries while receiving few in return as she warned of action to ensure "reciprocity'.

She lashed out at the drug-maker for "under-producing and under-delivering" doses, saying it is to blame for the slow place of Europe's roll-out.

Ireland is one of around a dozen countries to have paused the use of AstraZeneca following reports a small number of patients suffering blood clots after being vaccinated.

"And this shows that Europe is trying to make global cooperation work", von der Leyen said Wednesday.

Mr Jenrick told Sky News this morning that the comments made by the President of the European Commission were not "at all helpful".

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The EU said on Wednesday (17 March) it is prepared to tighten COVID vaccine exports to vaccine-producing countries or those with higher vaccination rates if they do not comply with its plea for "openness and reciprocity", in a move seen as a veiled threat to the United Kingdom, one of the key vaccine manufacturing countries.

"But it will certainly be Oxford/AstraZeneca that I will be having".

"We see the crest of a third wave forming in member states, and we know that we need to accelerate the vaccination rates". Supplies of vaccines rely on very complex worldwide manufacturing supply chains as we have just said and so everybody needs to have free trade of vaccines and not get into this sort of difficulty'.

"I think it takes some explaining, because the world's watching".

HE said the European Union was "stating clear facts" regarding the amount of vaccine being exported form the European Union to countries that are not manufacturing them for export to Europe.

'So basically what Ursula von der Leyen is telling, is to the member states to get their act together and get the roll-out going because the procurement is there'.

"We've contracted them, we've paid for them", Mr Morrison said.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels yesterday, Ms Von der Leyen had said: 'AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered, and this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.

"She confirmed then that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not meant to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling their contractual responsibilities."It remains the case we would expect the European Union to continue to stand by its commitment".

Earlier today Professor Jeremy Brown from the UK's vaccination committee said people across Europe will die from Covid-19 as a direct outcome of the decision to halt the rollout of the AstraZeneca version.

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