British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the effects of a third wave of Corona virus outbreak in Europe will reach British shores.
Johnson said the UK had to be “certain” that we would “feel the effects” of the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases on the European continent.
His comments come amid a dispute over supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine, after the President of the European Commission warned that the European Union may “prevent” the export of doses manufactured in member states to the United Kingdom.
European Union leaders will hold a virtual meeting next Thursday to discuss their plans in this area.
German officials confirmed that the British Prime Minister spoke with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday – and the BBC learned that he also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron – about the current problem, which would affect exports of the Oxford vaccine – AstraZeneca manufactured in Europe.
Johnson said he had “spoken to his friends in the European Union repeatedly” during the pandemic as he had received “reassurances … over the past few months that they did not want to see any obstacles.”
The Prime Minister’s Office in Downing Street said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Johnson earlier this year that the European Union had no intention of placing restrictions on vaccine exports.
Earlier, its main spokesperson, Eric Mamer, confirmed that Brussels is not seeking to impose a ban on vaccine exports, but rather wants pharmaceutical companies to fulfill their contractual obligations towards the countries of the Union.
Mamer said: “In that context, the president said that, of course, we see, in effect, that the companies that manufacture vaccine doses in the European Union are exporting on a very large scale, and this is a good thing in itself, but we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in this. Exports. “
The final point of contention appears to be on the dosages that are made in a Dutch manufacturer.
Asked if he was concerned about the dispute, Johnson told reporters: “I’ve had reassurances by talking with EU partners over the past few months that they don’t want to see any hindrances or hindrances.”
But he went on to issue a warning about what the increased cases of coronavirus in Europe might mean for the UK.
“On the continent now you can see, unfortunately, that there is a third wave on the way,” the British Prime Minister said.
“People in this country should not be under any illusion that past experience taught us that when a wave hits our friends, I fear it will appear on our shores as well,” he added.
He added, “I expect that we will feel these effects in time. That is why we are continuing our vaccination program as soon as possible.”
Problems with distribution
Meanwhile, the long-awaited results of the American trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, in which more than 32,000 volunteers participated, showed that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Several European leaders had stopped distributing the vaccine, amid fears of a possible link with blood clots. Regulators in the United Kingdom and the European Union said there is no evidence that the vaccine causes blood clots.
European leaders have faced criticism for the slow pace of vaccine deployment on the continent.
Fewer than 12 per cent of the population in the European Union has received the vaccine, compared with about 40 per cent in the United Kingdom – although the Union has 464 million people, compared to 67 million in the United Kingdom.
The European Union has had problems producing vaccines for Pfizer-Biontec, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
The British-Swedish company, AstraZeneca, which manufactured the vaccine, said that the fact that the contracts with the European Union were signed after the contracts were signed with the United Kingdom caused problems with the provision of their vaccine applications.
The Downing Street Prime Minister’s Office said earlier that it did not believe vaccine supply issues would affect the current roadmap to ease the lockdown restrictions.
Health and Social Welfare Minister Helen Whatley told the BBC’s “Breakfast” program that the UK was “on the right track” to reach its goal of delivering the vaccine to the nine priority groups by April 13 and to all adults by the end of next July.
The minister added that there is also enough to ensure people get their second dose of the vaccine.
But the Guardian newspaper says that a report prepared by the data analysis company “Irfinity” indicates that if a ban is in place on exports of all vaccines – including those for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that will be distributed in the United Kingdom – that will mean that the first dose of the vaccine will be provided. For each adult it will end in late August instead of the target date of July 31.
Ms. von der Leyen said that 41 million doses of the vaccine were exported from the European Union to 33 countries within six weeks, of which more than 10 million doses went to the United Kingdom.
On the contrary, she said, the European Union is still waiting for vaccine exports from the United Kingdom and warned last week that if supplies within Europe did not improve, the European bloc “will study whether exports to countries that have vaccination rates higher than us are still proportional.” . “
Article 122 of the EU Treaty allows for certain measures to be taken “in the event of severe difficulties arising in supplying certain products.” Such measures could theoretically include a ban on exports and a relinquishment of patent and intellectual property rights in relation to vaccines.
Von der Leyen said at the end of last week that the European bloc had the authority to “prevent” exports, adding that “this is the message that we are sending to AstraZeneca.”
A government source described the recent reports issued by the European Union as “worrying”.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said the British government was right in saying that contractual obligations should be respected.
Sir Kiir told BBC radio that the European Union was not “helping itself” and added, “I don’t think they have to follow the path of banning exports.”
It seems that the latest point of contention between the United Kingdom and the European Union is over the vaccine doses that are manufactured in a factory in the Netherlands, as a European official told Reuters news agency that these doses should be distributed among the member states and not sent to Britain.