PMQs: Boris Johnson rejects EU’s claim about vaccine exports
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted there is no place for “vaccine nationalism” after the EU wrongly accused him of blockading vaccine exports. The allegation sparked a bitter row with Eurocrats deliberately leaking sensitive export data showing it has shipped nine million doses to Britain so far but received none in return. But frustrated British officials insisted the statistics are a deliberately misleading attack on our highly successful mass rollout of coronavirus jabs.
They argued EU27 vaccine export figures are inflated because global production of the Pfizer jab is centred in Belgium.
In contrast, Downing Street pumped in more than £88million of taxpayers’ cash to ensure the manufacture of the AstraZeneca shot is a truly global endeavour.
Government officials helped broker the unique partnership between Oxford scientists and the Anglo-Swedish drugs giant, paving the way for a cost-effective vaccine that can be produced easily around the world.
“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with the support of the UK taxpayer, is being produced cheaply and at scale around the world thanks to Oxford and AZ sharing the IP and making it available on a not-for-profit basis,” a Government spokesman said.
“AstraZeneca has a decentralised manufacturing model and has scaled up global production quickly by building a number of supply chains across the globe, including in the EU and UK.
“This is unlike Pfizer, who adopted a centralised production model with global manufacturing happening in Europe.”
Britain has pumped £548million into the global vaccine aid fund COVAX – enough to buy 250 million AstraZeneca doses for poorer countries.
No10 also vowed to send our surplus supplies abroad – meaning around another 300 million doses will be donated to the global fight against the pandemic.
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British sources say the UK has refused to slap a ban on exports of AstraZeneca jabs even though the firm has only delivered a third of the expected delivery for the first three months of the year.
A leaked Brussels memo, seen by Express.co.uk, showed that European vaccine makers have shipped 34 million doses abroad since the beginning of February.
Most of the 9.1 million jabs sent to Britain were made at Pfizer’s Belgian production facility.
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Between February 1 and March 3, Brussels sanctioned 257 vaccine exports and blocked one 250,000-strong shipment to Australia.
Despite EU claims of a British export ban, domestic firms have played a vital role in supplying ingredients to help produce Pfizer.
Eurocrats also hinted they may ramp up the bloc’s own export ban in order to stop more doses leaving member states.
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Under the EU’s export ban, pharmaceutical giants must apply before sending vaccines abroad.
Asked whether the draconian measure could be ramped up further, a spokesman said: “You’ll have to wait and see what the Commission decides.
“The current mechanism expires at the end of this month, and definitely all options are on the table.”
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