‘Vaccine nationalism is wrong’ Zahawi erupts at Brussels amid AstraZeneca jab row

Nadhim Zahawi: Countries must ‘work together’ on vaccine rollout

The UK’s Vaccine Minister made clear is opposition to the move from Brussels which could threaten Britains supply of the Pfizer drug which is manufactured in Belgium. The European Union announced new checks in response to the slow roll-out of Coronavirus jab developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. In response to the row, Mr Zahawi has lashed out at “vaccine nationalism”, calling it “the wrong way to go.” He has instead called for country’s to “lean in” and help support the global vaccination rollout effort. 

Mr Zahawi told Nick Ferrari on LBC: “I wouldn’t want to speculate on what the EU negotiation with AstraZeneca, it would be wrong of me to do that.

“As it would be wrong for the EU to speculate on our own negotiations with these companies.

“The right thing to do is for ourselves and the EU that we both focus on getting our volumes, both companies have made a commitment both the EU and the UK, and to the world to do this.

“Vaccine nationalism is the wrong way to go. We have to make sure we protect our own people and then put our effort, lean in, as much as we can to protect the rest of the world.”

JUST IN: EU threatens to cut-off vaccine supplies to Britain as UK races ahead with Covid jabs

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Stella Kyriakides, the EU Health Commissioner, warned the bloc would introduce tight controls on the export of jabs to other countries on Monday.

This came after AstraZeneca cut its initial delivery of vaccines to the EU by up to 60 per cent.

Ms Kyriakides warned in a broadcast the bloc “will take any action required to protect its citizens and its rights” after the supply cut.

Due to the delivery shortfall, the commissioner said an export transparency mechanism” will be installed “as soon as possible”.

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The controls mean Pfizer will need to notify EU chiefs when it wants to export its jabs to the UK.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said it is confident there are enough vaccines to meet the first priority target.

She added: “We remain in close contact with all of our vaccine suppliers.

“Our vaccine supply and scheduled deliveries will fully support offering the first dose to all four priority groups by 15 February.”

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AstraZeneca has been accused of a “lack of clarity and insufficient explanations” by the EU over the delivery of jabs.

The pharmaceutical company cut initial deliveries of it and Oxford’s vaccine by 60 percent during the first quarter to 31 million doses.

In response, AstraZeneca said “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our EU supply chain”.

Later in a statement, it added chief Pascal Soriot has “stressed the importance of working in partnership and how AstraZeneca is doing everything it can to bring its vaccine to millions of Europeans as soon as possible.”

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