UK takes aim at EU’s draconian vaccines export ban – ‘global effort’ | Politics | News

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More than 700,000 doses of the Oxford COVID-19 jab made domestically were shipped to Australia in late February and March, according to reports by the Sydney Morning Herald. It was at a similar time that the European Union used its export ban to block the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca shots Down Under. Soon after taking action, Brussels turned its sights on Britain for apparently having de facto trade controls on the life-saving medical supplies.

EU bosses Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel accused Downing Street of preventing overseas shipments of jabs, an accusation strenuously denied by the Government.

And while No10 refused to deny reports of 717,000 AstraZeneca shots being sent to Australia, officials took the chance to mock Brussels’ hardline measures.

A Government spokesman said: “Producing vaccines is an international endeavour and the UK is proud to be playing a leading role in the global effort to develop and distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

“We are continuing to make exceptional progress through the roll-out of our vaccination programme and remain confident in our supplies.

“The details of any commercial vaccine supply agreements between national governments and AstraZeneca are commercially sensitive and a matter for those two parties.”

The European Commission’s chief spokesman today refused to comment whether EU chiefs still believe Britain is imposing an export ban on vaccines when asked by Express.co.uk.

According to reports in Canberra, two large shipments from the UK arrived to help plug a shortfall in supply of coronavirus vaccines.

The first of 300,000 AstraZeneca doses arrived on February 28 with another following shortly after the EU blocked 250,000 doses being sent Down Under from the firm’s Italian production plant.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also didn’t deny that British-made AstraZeneca doses have been exported.

He told Sky News: “In terms of what the companies do, these companies are manufacturing for all around the world and we source from everywhere in the world.

“So what I’m in control of, what matters for us as the UK government, is making sure that we get the supplies that we have got contracted from the companies.”

So far, No10 has refused to ship UK-made doses to help the EU’s faltering vaccination drive.

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EU envoys were today pondering Mrs von der Leyen’s proposed export ban on the life-saving medical supplies to countries with better vaccination rates than the bloc.

Under her scheme, vaccine producers on the Continent must seek permission from eurocrats before shipping doses overseas.

Mrs von der Leyen wants to use the stringent regulations to stop AstraZeneca from using European factories to supply the British vaccination campaign.

The top eurocrat has previously proposed also cutting off our access to the Pfizer jab, which are made in Belgium, to help get the bloc’s rollout back on track.

But a host of EU capitals, including Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands, refused to endorse the plans.

In a joint statement, seen by Express.co.uk, they said: “It might inadvertently start a negative spiral of export restrictions that will hamper the necessary ramping up of global production and potentially also the EU’s own production and distribution.”



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