Vaccine row: EU solidarity 'benefits everyone' says Beaune
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Yesterday, Italy announced it had refused the export of 250,000 life-saving AstraZeneca jabs to Australia. It said the move was in response to the drugs manufacturer’s failure to produce as many jabs for the EU as promised.
A requirement for all vaccines from the EU to be issued with an export licence was introduced in January.
There were fears at the time Brussels was planning to block exports of the Pfizer vaccine, which is manufactured in Belgium, to the UK.
Brexit supporters have said the latest actions from the EU are proof the UK is better off outside the bloc.
Former Brexit Party MEP and now editorial director of Unlocked, Martin Daubney, said: “They threatened to do this to Australia on the same day they blockaded UK.
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“Except now they’ve actually done it to the Aussies.
“Absolutely beneath contempt.”
Conservative MP Desmond Swayne told Express.co.uk: “Clearly the European Union has, in so many respects, failed the test on vaccinations.
“Nothing surprises me.”
Former MEP Ben Habib told this website: “The EU sought to prevent exports of the vaccine from Europe to the UK by, amongst other things, invoking article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, putting a so-called hard border on the island of Ireland; something it said it should never happen.
“It quickly reversed that approach in the face of public outrage.
“It then proceeded to badmouth the vaccine and in doing so undermined confidence in it. There are 20 million doses of unused Astrazeneca vaccine in storage across the EU.
“Now, all of a sudden, they are preventing again the vaccine from leaving Europe. The EU has created complete confusion in its vaccination program.”
He added: “All I can say is thank goodness for Oxford University, AstraZeneca and for having left the EU.”
Ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis described the latest move as “disgraceful behaviour.”
Australia orders Brussels to rethink its AstraZeneca vaccine blockade [UPDATE]
France’s Beaune issues dire warning to EU members not to break ranks [INSIGHT]
EU leaders admit AstraZeneca Covid jab ‘very efficient’ [LATEST]
“It comes at the end of a period where it took them a long time to approve the vaccine, then some of their leaders questioned the value of the vaccine, and it looks likely they wasted the vaccine as a result of that because of an uptake shortfall,” he told The Telegraph.
Australia has demanded the EU reverse its decision.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision.”
The Australian minister said the country had already received 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which would last until local production of the vaccine ramps up.
He said the missing doses would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation programme.
The European Union is suffering from a slow rollout of its vaccination programme, with low take up rates.
About eight percent of the EU’s population has received a jab against coronavirus.
In the UK one in every four adults have had a first vaccine.
Britain was invited to join the EU’s vaccination programme last summer but declined the offer and said it would go it alone.
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