EU politicians ‘with no medical basis’ savaged for ‘increasing problem’ in vaccine farce

EU: Expert slams Ursula von der Leyen on vaccine rollout

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On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to block vaccine exports to the UK. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused her of engaging in brinkmanship of the type displayed by “less democratic countries”.

Tensions have heightened between the EU and UK over a diplomatic row on the export of COVID-19 vaccines.

Speaking on Wednesday evening’s BBC Newsnight, former Conservative Health Minister Stephen Hammond said the EU’s comments were “incredibly ill advised”.

He added: “There are contractual arrangements with both the EU and the UK.

“AstraZeneca are fulfilling their contractual arrangements to the UK.

“I think it would have been much more helpful for the European position if politicians with no medical basis had not denigrated this vaccine because there are supplies of it in Europe which could be used.

“There are also now going to be increasing concerns about a many number of countries in Europe about a third wave.

“And if you are there undermining confidence in vaccination and therefore the whole vaccination process you are probably increasing the problem for yourself.”

Some EU member states suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over what they have called safety concerns.

The European Medicines Agency stands by its decision to approve the Oxford jab and has said there is “no indication” the jab causes blood clots.

The agency said it will investigate the situation further and is expected to release its results today.

However, some EU countries including France and Germany have paused their rollout of the Oxford vaccine after reports emerged of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

Several European countries are experiencing a new surge in COVID-19 infections and Brussels is struggling to obtain sufficient supplies of jabs to accelerate its vaccination programme.

In the latest vaccine row instalment, Ms von der Leyen said “all options are on the table.”

She added: “We are in the crisis of the century and I’m not ruling out anything for now.

“We have to make sure Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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In response to her comments, Mr Raab said: “Frankly, I’m surprised we’re having this conversation.

“It is normally what the UK and EU team up to reject when other countries with less democratic views than our own engage in that kind of brinkmanship.”

Ms von der Leyen claimed that the concerns in Europe over blood clots proved the EU was right to use a slower process to approve the vaccine than the emergency one used by the UK.

Britain has vaccinated almost half of its adult population with at least one dose – more than 25 million people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will be receiving a coronavirus vaccine “very shortly” and “it will certainly be Oxford-AstraZeneca that I will be having”.

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