Brexiteers claim EU vaccine chaos proves Brexit was right decision
‘Leaving was the right thing to do’: Brexiteers claim EU vaccine chaos PROVES UK made the right decision to split from the bloc as AstraZeneca boss reveals Brussels ordered jabs THREE MONTHS after the UK
- EU under growing pressure over vaccine rollout as bloc lags behind the UK
- AstraZeneca chief executive said UK deal signed three months before EU deal
- Brexiteers said EU ‘dither’ on vaccine proved ‘Brexit was the right thing to do’
Brexiteers have seized on the EU’s vaccine chaos and claimed it proves the UK was right to split from the bloc as the chief executive of AstraZeneca revealed Brussels ordered its jabs three months after Britain.
The European Commission has threatened to block vaccine exports amid growing criticism of a slow rollout on the continent.
European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides accused AstraZeneca, which works with Oxford University on its vaccine, of failing to give a valid explanation for failing to deliver doses to the bloc.
But AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot hit back and claimed the EU was being ’emotional’.
He said ‘the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal’ which meant there had been an ‘extra three months to fix all the glitches’ in Britain while for Europe ‘we are three months behind in fixing those glitches’.
Eurosceptics said the EU delay on agreeing a contract was ‘absurd’ and evidence the UK is better off as an independent nation.
Boris Johnson said he has ‘total confidence’ in the UK’s supply of vaccines after the EU threatened to impose controls on the export of jabs
Nigel Farage, the leader of the Reform UK Party, said: ‘Once vaccines were approved, the British government were very, very quick to act.
‘In contrast the EU dithered and delayed. Why? Well, of course, it is a bureaucratic process, a grinding machine that can’t do anything quickly and they are always obsessed with something called the precautionary principle which makes it very difficult to get anything new out to consumers.
‘Fast forward to where we are now since the UK made that decision and I am pleased to say that 10 per cent of the population have now been vaccinated, hopefully we are going to be on target to get the vaccinated by the time Valentine’s Day comes along.
‘So 10 per cent of the UK has been vaccinated. In the EU the figure is two per cent and that is leading to huge criticism of the European Commission. They are the ones that really make the big decisions.’
Mr Farage said the vaccines situation proved the EU is a ‘bad project, run by bad people’ and added: ‘Brexit was the right thing to do.’
Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: ‘Do you remember the criticism we faced for not joining the EU vaccination programme?
‘We made the right call as an independent nation and it is clear it was a benefit to us not being tied to the bureaucracy of the EU.
‘A three month delay is absurd. It is clearly an advantage to not be part of the EU and it is really good for us but sad obviously for the people of the countries of the EU.’
Mr Soriot said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that there had been ‘teething issues’ in the rollout of the vaccine both in the UK and on the continent.
He said: ‘But the UK contract was signed three months before the European vaccine deal.
‘So with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we experienced.
‘As for Europe, we are three months behind in fixing those glitches. Would I like to do better? Of course. But, you know, if we deliver in February what we are planning to deliver, it’s not a small volume. We are planning to deliver millions of doses to Europe, it is not small.’
Mr Soriot said the UK had got a ‘head start’ on its vaccine deal because the Government was already working with Oxford University.
He also dismissed suggestions the firm was selling jabs to other countries to make more money as he said ‘we make no profit everywhere’.
He said all governments ‘are under pressure’ because of the coronavirus crisis and ‘everybody is getting kind of a bit, you know, aggravated or emotional about those things’.
A senior EU official hit back at Mr Soriot’s comments this morning, telling AFP that ‘we contest many of the things in the interview, including the idea that the factories in the UK are reserved for UK deliveries’.
AstraZeneca has a deal with the European Commission to supply 400 million doses of its vaccine.
But the company has said a production shortfall in its European plants means it will miss its target while still meeting its contract with the UK.
Boris Johnson has said he has ‘total confidence’ in the UK’s supply of vaccines after the EU threatened to impose controls on the export of jabs.
The Pfizer vaccine is manufactured in Europe but the bulk of the AstraZeneca jab meant for the UK is manufactured on British soil – it is made in Oxford and Staffordshire and put into vials in Wrexham.
Pfizer has confirmed its projected supply for the UK remains unchanged.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference last night that ‘we expect and hope that our EU friends will honour all contracts’.
Mr Soriot said that by March the UK will have vaccinated ‘maybe 28 or 30 million people’ and he expects the Government to hit its goal of having vaccinated the 15 million most vulnerable people by the middle of February.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday said he believes the UK will continue to receive its deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
Asked whether the EU could prevent Pfizer vials leaving its borders, Mr Zahawi told Sky News: ‘No, I’m confident that the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered.
‘Pfizer have made sure that they have always delivered for us, they will continue to do so.’
On Monday night, Ms Kyriakides said conversations with AstraZeneca had resulted in ‘dissatisfaction’ and the EU ‘will take any action required to protect its citizens and rights’.
She said in a broadcast address that an ‘export transparency mechanism’ will be installed ‘as soon as possible’.
‘In the future, all companies producing vaccines against Covid-19 in the EU will have to provide early notification whenever they want to export vaccines to third countries,’ she said.
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