The EU, under the direction of Ursula von der Leyen, has reportedly moved ahead with the controversial block of vaccine exports from the EU to the UK. AstraZeneca vaccines, and also key vaccine ingredients, are reportedly being denied export to UK ports. The bitter vaccine nationalism being portrayed by the EU has culminated in an illegal and unprecedented ban.
The Guardian has reported that if such ban is implemented, then the UK vaccination programme would be delayed by 2 months and therefore the lifting of lockdown would likely be delayed. The UK is set to re-open large parts of the hospitality industry on April 12th and this recent development puts this prospect in significant jeopardy.
The plant in the Netherlands which is producing the AZ vaccine for the UK, has not yet got approval to provide the EU with vaccines. Therefore, the vaccines that are set to be blocked by the EU cannot actually be used in the EU yet. This decision is therefore confusing. The jabs, that are now unable to move, cannot even be used for EU citizens as they have not yet been licensed by Public Health Europe. It is fair to conclude that as of right now this decisive measure can be viewed as a purely politically motivated. It is dangerous, irresponsible and a violation of contract law.
Boris Johnson is planning to call EU leaders to try to convince them to veto the plan to block the export of AZ vaccines. Pressure is mounting on Downing Street ahead of the EU summit on Thursday. Labour has also urged the EU to “calm down” as the vaccine row escalates.
One must remember that “The EU” has not exported anything. Companies and Industries that are based in the EU have produced goods, negotiated prices with governments and formed contracts for exportation. This is a fundamental principle of free trade and something that the EU is supposed to champion, yet tonight it is its nemesis.
On the morning of the 22nd March, Downing Street said Britain was prepared to share the Dutch-made AZ vaccines with the EU block in an attempt to prevent an all out ban. However, No10 has put in a clear red line, we will not export vaccines from British factories to the EU bloc. Keir Starmer doubled down on his criticism of the EU saying that it “isn’t helping itself”. Tensions are still high after last nights decision by the EU and the UK are looking at concessions to prevent a catastrophic ban on all vaccine exports and their ingredients.
Pfizer has urged the EU to not blockade the shipment of vaccines. This is because many of the essential lipids that are used in the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine are produced in Yorkshire, England. A senior government minister has said that Britain would have “no choice” but blockade the shipment of such ingredients to the EU in retaliation. The vaccine row is now effecting the two most used vaccines on the continent, this is a dire situation for public health and the battle against the pandemic.
According to a senior aid in the EU described the possible ban at this Thursday’s European Council as a “total sh*t show”. There is increasing disagreement within the EU itself over its aggressive and nationalist behaviour towards vaccines.