EU ‘in a complete shambles’ over AstraZeneca jab says Rifkind
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The former Foreign Secretary has slapped down EU bosses over the decision to halt the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine while experts examine a possible link to blood clots. Sir Malcolm said the suspension of the drug had created “a very foolish mess” and though not one to often criticise the EU, he told TalkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer that on the issue of AstraZeneca the bloc had collapsed into a “complete shambles.”
He said: “The result of this suspension in France and in sixteen, seventeen other countries are that tens of thousands of their own citizens who by now would have been vaccinated have had their vaccinations postponed.
“Some of them even if the government’s change their policy will have become very nervous.
“Now you say we can use AstraZeneca and a few days ago you were saying you shouldn’t, so the problem with people resisting vaccination will become more serious.
“The whole thing is a very very foolish mess and on that could have easily been avoided.”
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Sir Rifkind added: “I am normally not one of those who attack the European Union.
“I think sometimes we get over emotional about it.
“On this issue, they are in a complete shambles.
“There is no point pretending otherwise.”
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His remarks came as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned EU members that Brussels would halt vaccine shipments to the UK for as long as Britain had a higher inoculation rate.
She stated the bloc was “ready to use whatever tool we need” to make sure the EU got “its fair share” of doses.
Reacting this afternoon Boris Johnson warned restrictions would “endanger global efforts to fight the virus”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “the global recovery from covid relies on international collaboration” as he urged the EU to stand by its commitment” not to restrict exports of vaccines.
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The No10 official said: “I would point you back to the conversation the Prime Minister had with Ursula von der Leyen earlier this year.
“She confirmed then that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not intended to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling their contractual responsibilities.
“It remains the case we would expect the EU to continue to stand by its commitment.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s daily Covid death toll has halved in a week, in the biggest percentage drop since the jab rollout gathered pace in January.
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