EU Bureaucrats Try to Seize UK-Made Vaccines After Covid Failures

European Union commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides gives a press statement on vaccine deliveries at the EU headquarters in Brussels on January 25, 2021. (Photo by JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
JOHN THYS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union, which failed to secure early production of coronavirus vaccines, is demanding that UK-made AstraZeneca doses produced for Britons be sent to Europe instead.

Earlier this week, the European Commission threatened to halt the export of vaccines made in Europe produced under a UK contract, after both drugs companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca revealed a delay in delivery to the EU market due to production problems in Belgium.

While Eurocrats sought to blame AstraZeneca and alleged that it was favouring the UK as a customer, the company’s CEO revealed that the UK had a contract in place three months before the bloc, and implied Brussels bureaucracy was to blame for the lack of progress with successful vaccine production.

Now, in order to make up for the bloc’s shortfall, the EU is demanding that not only are exports of the drugs forbidden but that millions of vaccines made in the UK by the joint British AstraZeneca-Oxford venture — under the British government’s contract, meant for Britons — be sent to Europe, according to The Telegraph.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot also denied it was in breach of contact with the EU, as it could only offer a “best effort” to deliver to Europe because of Brussels’ delays.

European Commission Health Minister Stella Kyriakides alleges that is not true, going as far as claiming the crop from British vaccine laboratories are under EU dominion.

The Eurocrat said: “Not being able to ensure manufacturing capacity is against the letter and the spirit of our agreement. We reject the logic of ‘first come, first served’. That may work at the neighbourhood butchers, but not in contracts. And not in our advanced purchase agreements.”

Ms Kyriakides also claimed that there is “no hierarchy of the four production plants named in the advanced purchase agreement” with AstraZeneca, continuing that of the four factories listed, “it does not differentiate between the UK and Europe”.

She then made the extraordinary claim that the “UK factories are part of the advanced purchase agreements, and this is why they have to deliver”.

“We expected the doses that are in the advanced purchase agreement to be delivered to the European Union,” she added.

The Commissioner’s spokesman affirmed Kyriakides’ remarks in blunter terms: “If UK plants are working better are we expecting UK plants to deliver doses to the EU? Yes, we do.”

While a German Member of European Parliament said Britain “better think twice” before asserting its contractual rights, saying the bloc should threaten to stop all exports of the Pfizer vaccine, which would spark a “trade war”.

Peter Liese, of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said: “We have to show our weapons… we need to tell other companies in the world, if you treat the Europeans as second class you will suffer for this.”

Both AstraZeneca and the British government reject this claim, asserting that the contract between them stipulates British-made vaccines are for British use.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday: “We’re very confident of our contracts, very confident of our supply. The issues are really a matter for our EU friends and the company concerned.

“I am very pleased that at the moment that we have the fastest rollout of vaccines in Europe by some way.”

Brexiteers have long argued that rather than being at risk of being left behind in terms of medicines once it left the EU, the UK would be more independent and nimble in its responses to health crises. Within those new, independent parameters, the UK took a gamble several months ago by investing taxpayers’ money in a vaccine that it was not sure would work — a risk that paid off.

Meanwhile, the bloc “dithered”, according to Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, who also remarked that as well as demonstrating how quickly an independent Britain could react to world events, the vaccine drama exposed how “nasty” and “vindictive” the European Union can be.

The unfolding events of 2021 are a far cry from the shrill warnings of the pro-European Union press in Britain from months before, however. In March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was still unfolding, Britain’s Independent warned “Brexit ‘will slow down coronavirus vaccine availability in UK’,” given “Experts warn that European Medicines Agency membership would have had advantages”.

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