Home » Politics » Desperate EU ‘begs India for 10m AstraZeneca jabs’…after vaccine shipments to UK blocked
Desperate EU ‘begs India for 10m AstraZeneca jabs’…after vaccine shipments to UK blocked
April 1, 2021
Emmanuel Macron discusses the vaccine rollout in France
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A Brussels envoy sent a letter requesting the life-saving jabs from the Serum Institute of India, it has been claimed. The EU is hoping to secure the shots from the world’s largest vaccine market to offset supply shortfalls from AstraZeneca’s European factories. It is furious that the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant has cut its expected deliveries to member states, and eurocrats are now attempting to secure foreign supplies.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously failed to convince the United States to sanction a shipment of the Oxford-produced jab to the bloc.
An Indian government source said: “The EU ambassador wrote a letter, saying people give us export approvals.”
India currently has export controls in place as it seeks to bolster its domestic vaccination drive to halt a surge of coronavirus infections sweeping the country.
It has so far sent 64 million doses abroad to 83 countries, and administered the same number at home – sparking domestic frustrations.
Britain is also urging New Delhi to release a shipment of five million doses, made by Serum, destined for British shores.
The EU is currently locked in a battle with AstraZeneca over the firm’s failure to deliver enough doses to member states.
In recent weeks, the European Commission has sparked an export ban row with the UK over AstraZeneca jabs.
EU vaccines tsar Thierry Breton warned “zero” doses of the Oxford jab made on the Continent would be sent to Britain as eurocrats use their bolstered export ban to confiscate shipments.
In a highly provocative outburst, the Frenchman dismissed Boris Johnson’s generous offer to cooperate with the EU to boost production across the bloc.
The Prime Minister is keen to avert a full-blown trade war with Brussels, but Mr Breton declared: “We have nothing to negotiate.”
Mr Breton told the FT: “We are just here to make sure that the [AstraZeneca contract with the EU] is delivered – and, of course, we are here to also help our British friends.
“But we have nothing to negotiate.”
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“If AstraZeneca does more, we don’t have any issue, but as long as it doesn’t deliver its commitments to us, the doses stay in Europe,” he added.
Britain has become target number one for the EU’s export controls on medical supplies because the UK’s vaccination scheme is steaming ahead of Europe’s efforts.
To end the threat of a blockade, No10 has proposed sharing production capacities at AstraZeneca factories developed with British aid.
A Government official said: “We continue to discuss what more we can do to ensure a reciprocally beneficial relationship between the UK and EU on COVID-19.
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“As the Prime Minister said in previous statements, including one co-signed by other world leaders, no single country can face this health emergency alone, and we need to address this challenge through solidarity and cooperation.”
British taxpayers pumped in £21 million to help boost production at the Halix plant in the Netherlands, which is at the centre of the EU-UK vaccines row.
Brussels is demanding the lion’s share of doses, around five million a month, produced at the AstraZeneca factory in Leiden to plug firm’s shortfall in deliveries to the bloc.
It has since emerged that the Dutch government refused to hand over £8.5 million after Oxford scientists asked for financial assistance to address concerns over manufacturing capacity at the facility.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte turned down the approach after he received reassurances over potential production hiccups, but insiders said the offer would have helped boost capacity five-fold.
His mistake is expected to hinder the bloc’s argument to keep hold of the majority of doses produced at the Halix factory.
Britain has now delivered at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to more than 30 million people.
In contrast, just 51 million have received their first shot across the EU.