UK and EU ‘not to blame’ for Covid-19 vaccine dispute, EU official says, AstraZeneca oversold production capacity

UK and EU ‘not to blame’ for Covid-19 vaccine dispute, EU official says, AstraZeneca oversold production capacity

An EU official has dismissed claims that the UK is behind Europe’s faltering inoculation program, instead noting that the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant oversold its production capacity during negotiations.

Speaking on Monday, an unnamed EU official said that the UK was not to blame for the EU’s woes. “The UK is not to blame. The EU is not to blame,” the official noted, adding “it’s about everyone finding agreement with a company that has been over-selling its production capacity. AstraZeneca has to deliver doses to its EU customers.”   

On Sunday an official told Reuters that Brussels has not formally blocked the export of any Covid-19 vaccines to the UK but added an export request would not be approved if the Netherlands factory applied to ship a new batch to Britain. 

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Earlier on Monday, UK Care Minister Helen Whately urged the EU to stand by its commitment to share vaccine production and called on Brussels to work with London on increasing manufacturing capacity. 

On Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned AstraZeneca that the EU would consider a complete export ban on its Covid-19 vaccine if it doesn’t supply the bloc with the jabs before other nations. 

“We have the option of prohibiting a planned export. That is the message to AstraZeneca,” the EU Commission president told German media. “You first fulfil your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries.” 

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FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker shows a vial and a box of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, as vaccinations resume after a brief pause in their use over concern for possible connection to blood clots, in Turin, Italy, March 19, 2021.
‘Fulfil your contract’: EU Commission chief threatens AstraZeneca with Covid vaccine export ban

As the row between London and Brussels continues, a poll by YouGov, released on Monday, suggests that Europeans are becoming increasingly hesitant to take the Anglo-Swedish jab following an investigation into the jab’s safety. 

New data shows that only 23% of French people and 32% of Germans consider the vaccine to be safe. The survey also showed that people in Italy and Spain have lost confidence in AstraZeneca. Confidence in the jab remains high in the UK.

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