EU could halt vaccine exports to UK

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The EU has threatened to halt vaccine exports to the UK as European vaccination campaigns lag behind

The EU might take emergency steps to halt its AstraZeneca vaccine exports to the UK. Because of this, another standoff with the UK government seems likely. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said also that the EU was expecting the UK to send shots to the block. On the other hand, Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, accused the EU of behaving like a ‘less democratic country’.

The contest comes after numerous setbacks to the European vaccine campaign. AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish company producing the vaccines, has delayed shipments to the EU. Moreover, the EU might feel overlooked as two main sites of AstraZeneca vaccine production are within its borders. Nonetheless, the UK is way ahead in its vaccination campaign.

Von der Leyen stated that the EU wants more reciprocity and proportionality in exports from the UK. She also remarked that this is not some vaccine turf war, but rather is to make sure “Europe gets its fair share”. Meanwhile, the EU is keeping word with its vaccine shipments to other countries. The bloc has already exported 41 million doses to over 33 foreign countries since the beginning of the year.

The UK replied that the EU is engaging in a “kind of brinkmanship”. Yet, the UK maintains that vaccines produced in Staffordshire and Oxford by AstraZeneca have to supply Britain first. The European Commission president has also reiterated that while Pfizer and Moderna were meeting contractual obligations, AstraZeneca had delivered only 30m of its 90m promised. The US has also imposed a formal export ban on vaccines for now, with both the US and the EU reciprocally not exporting to each other.