AstraZeneca: Expert criticises Merkel and Macron
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The German Chancellor has firmly thrown her support behind the European Commission’s aggressive move to threaten Britain with an export ban on Covid jabs. In a phone call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, she fumed the EU had shipped more than 34 million doses abroad but received “almost nothing” in return from the UK or US. The leading EU figurehead told Mr Johnson it was “right” for Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to explore ways to further restrict shipment until AstraZeneca delivers more doses to member states.
Now Britons have launched furious attacks against the EU and Mrs Merkel for their refusal to back down from a threat over a vaccine export ban to the UK.
One Express.co.uk reader, reacting to our original story, wrote: “So Boris offers an olive branch to the odious EU, and they rebuff the kind offer.
“That says all you need to know about the selfish EU.”
A second person said: “One senses the factory being build in Oxfordshire to make vaccines will also have a supply chain that doesn’t involve the EU in any way, shape or form.”
Another Express.co.uk reader commented: “The AZ vaccine is a bit like the English language – the EU hates to admit it, but they can’t function without it.
“Same as the vaccine – they hate it, but at the same time need it.”
A fourth person warned Mr Johnson to stand firm against the threats from the EU or risk the UK resembling the “whipping boy of the EU”.
They added: “Boris you must not cave on this, you must say NO!
“If you compromise you will lose the trust and the support of the nation, and you make the UK look like the whipping boy of the EU.”
The latest furious reaction comes after European Commission President Ms von der Leyen last weekend suggested she could block a shipment of up to 10 million doses to the UK from an AstraZeneca factory in the Netherlands.
The EU is looking to seize control of millions of doses from the drug maker made at the Halix plant that are destined for Britain.
The so-called “active ingredient” produced at the plant would later be put into vials at two facilities in the UK helping to produce the Oxford jab.
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Dutch PM Mark Rutte, whom last week triumphed in his country’s elections, has called for urgent talks between Brussels and Downing Street to avert a full-blown vaccine war,
Such a move would see London agree to free up production capacity at the plant, which currently only supplies Britain, to also make jabs for Europe.
A senior Dutch source told Express.co.uk: “These vaccines are the results of an integrated global supply chain. We therefore remain in favour of exports unless otherwise decided by the Commission.
“At the same time we must avoid a tipping point whereby exporting to third countries becomes problematic.
“That would result in a lose-lose scenario. To avoid that Brussels, London and AstraZeneca must compromise on the doses produced on the Continent.”
Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin has also expressed fears over a possible vaccine war, warning eurocrats could endanger the bloc’s jabs rollout by threatening Britain’s supplies.
He said: “If you start putting up barriers, other countries may follow suit in terms of some of those vital raw materials that are required to make the vaccine. If we start that we are in trouble.
“They’re not EU vaccines, these are vaccines paid for by other countries that are manufactured in Europe.”
British and EU officials have held talks over possibly dividing up supplies if the bloc agrees to drop demands for British-made vaccines to be shipped to the continent.
The compromise is expected to be put before EU leader on Thursday during a video summit.
But a European Commission spokesman warned: “This is not about banning vaccine exports. This is about making sure companies deliver on their commitments to the EU.”
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