politics

Boris Johnson sidesteps questions on EU vaccine row as bloc ramps up pressure on AstraZeneca


He refused to be drawn on whether the UK would consider an export ban on vaccine supplies, saying “I’ll stick to my lines” after being pressed on the issue by the Financial Times’ Jim Pickard.

“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is obviously very important for our country and for the world and the matter in question is for our friends in the EU and AstraZeneca,” Mr Johnson said.

Earlier the EU’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told AstraZeneca that it was contractually obliged to send jabs produced in Oxford and Keele, after the company warned of manufacturing issues in Europe.

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot has argued that supply chain “teething issues” were fixed in the UK ahead of the EU because Britain signed a contract three months earlier.

But Ms Kyriakides said: “We reject the logic of first come first served. That may work at the neighbourhood butchers but not in contracts.”

She denied the bloc would impose an export ban on vaccines leaving the EU but said the contract signed with AstraZeneca, which worked with Oxford University on its vaccine, contains two factories in the UK.

“There is no hierarchy of the factories. You are aware in the contracts there are four factories listed but it does not differentiate between the UK and Europe. The UK factories are part of our advance purchase agreements and that is why they have to deliver,” she added.

“We expect the doses that are in an advance purchase agreement to be delivered to the European Union.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be approved by the European Medicines Agency on Friday.

There were concerns that the UK could face supply issues for the Belgium-manufactured Pfizer jab if the EU imposed export controls, as previously suggested.

In an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Soriot rejected the suggestion AstraZeneca was selling to the highest bidder “because we make no profit everywhere” under the agreement signed with Oxford University.



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