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The UK and the EU have been at odds in recent weeks, with the latter complaining that London does not show the same level of reciprocity in vaccine distribution. The EU has said that since the end of January, more than 10 million doses produced in the EU have gone to the UK, but the UK has not exported any in return.
“We are all facing the same pandemic and the third wave makes cooperation between the EU and the UK even more important. We discussed what more we can do to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between the UK and the EU on Covid-19, ”The UK government and the European Commission said in a joint statement Wednesday.
“Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific actions we can take – short, medium and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all of our citizens,” the Kingdom said. United and the EU, adding that talks would continue.
At the heart of the recent conflict is the fact that the EU has received far fewer vaccines than expected from AstraZeneca, putting its wider deployment at risk.
The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company was expected to distribute around 90 million doses in the first quarter, but that number has since been reduced to 30 million doses.
EU leaders will hold a virtual summit on Thursday to discuss ways to boost the supply of Covid vaccines and improve dose deployment.
“I remind you that AstraZeneca has only honored a small part of its contractual commitments,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said at a press conference on Wednesday.
As a result, the European Commission has decided to tighten the rules on exports of vaccines produced in the bloc. The EU’s executive arm said on Wednesday that in addition to checking whether companies are sticking to their contracts, it will also take into consideration whether the country receiving EU-made vaccines has a higher vaccination rate and a better situation. epidemiological and whether the recipient country has restrictions on sending vaccines or raw materials elsewhere.
This is why the UK could expect to see a lower number of imported Covid shots in the future. It has a higher vaccination rate than the EU and, according to the European Commission, does not share its vaccines with other countries.
“Our export authorization mechanism does not concern any particular country, but it is clear that in the EU we also need to ensure the vaccination of our own population,” said Dombrovskis.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the vaccine blockade did not “make sense”.
This weekend, Italian authorities discovered 29 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a finishing plant near Rome. AstraZeneca said in a statement that these injections were awaiting quality control and that 13 million were to be shipped to low- and middle-income countries and the remaining 16 million doses were to be sent to EU countries, with 10 million. expected. be sent in the last week of March.
“It is incorrect to describe this as a stock. The vaccine manufacturing process is very complex and time consuming. In particular, vaccine doses must await approval from quality control after filling the vials, ”AstraZeneca said in a statement.