EU to ban exporting vaccines TODAY – Brussels chief issues legal threat to firms

Vaccine: Iain Dale says EU ‘blame the Brits’

The European Commission’s so-called “vaccine export transparency mechanism” could threaten the crucial supply of doses to the NHS. Any outright export ban will make it difficult for Britain to obtain supplies of the Pfizer jab made in Belgium. The move is expected to force pharmaceutical firms to reveal the details of exports outside of the European Union of any vaccines also ordered by the EU.

European Council President Charles Michel insisted the bloc should explore legal options to ensure the bloc can secure much-needed doses of coronavirus vaccines.

In a letter to four EU leaders last night, the top eurocrat wrote: “I support all efforts to resolve the matter with companies through dialogue and negotiation. However, if no satisfactory solution can be found, I believe we should explore all options and make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal under the Treaties.”

He added: “This would give the EU and Member States the legal means, by adopting appropriate urgent measures, to ensure effective vaccine production and supply for our population.

“I believe this solution would demonstrate the EU’s strength and reliability in protecting its citizens’ health over and above all other considerations.

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“I made this suggestion to the Commission President von der Leyen so that we can explore this avenue imminently.”

The EU’s vaccine scheme is under fire after UK-based AstraZeneca announced a significant reduction of the Oxford jab to the bloc.

Brussels has called for the firm to divert tens of millions of doses made in Britain to European capitals.

Belgian health officials yesterday carried out an EU-backed inspection of a plant which helps produce the Oxford vaccine for AstraZeneca.

A low batch yield from the facility, run by Novasep, near Brussels, has been blamed AstraZeneca’s failure to meet an EU advanced purchase order of 100 million doses by the end of March.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “What irritated us was that, unlike the other companies, AstraZeneca very suddenly announced that it was drastically reducing its agreed deliveries for the first quarter and did not provide understandable reasons why.

“Now we want clarity on that.”

The Brussels boss has called on AstraZeneca to make its contract with the EU public after the bitter dispute over vaccine delays.

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Furious member states have proposed bans on the Pfizer export to Britain unless the UK-based company delivers more doses to Europe.

Britain’s speedy vaccine scheme, which has delivered jabs to more than 11 percent of the population, has sparked political discontent in Brussels.

The EU’s programme has only managed to reach just two percent of its population.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to officially receive the green-light for use on the Continent from the European Medicines Agency.

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The EU’s Amsterdam-based drugs watchdog is expected to announce a final decision later this afternoon.

The German government’s panel of vaccine experts has only recommended its use for under-65s after it raised concerns over the efficacy for older recipients of the jab.

Its experts claimed that there was inconclusive scientific evidence to judge whether the vaccine made a difference for over-65s.

The panel wrote: “On the basis of the data available, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is recommended only for people aged between 18 and 64.

“At present, there is insufficient data to assess the vaccine’s efficacy.”

AstraZeneca said only a low number of over-65s had been included in its vaccine trial to ensure the firm was confident that its doses were safe for older people.

The company said: “Reports that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine efficacy is low in adults over 65 years is not an accurate reflection of the totality of the data.

“The latest analyses support efficacy in this age group, which we expect to be published by the EMA in the coming days.”

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