Piers Morgan gets his first dose of coronavirus vaccine
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Earlier this week, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, falsely claimed the UK has an “outright ban” on vaccine exports. This provoked a furious response from Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, who branded the accusation “completely false”.
According to the BBC, Mr Raab has written to one of his EU counterparts to protest the claim.
However, Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, has urged the UK to publish vaccine export details.
He tweeted: “Please stop lecturing Dominic Raab and show us the export data of vaccines to Europe or anywhere else.
“In the last months eight million Biontech/Pfizer vaccines were sent from Europe to the UK.
“How many vaccines did you send to Europe #AstraZeneca.”
EU members have been lagging for behind the UK on the number of vaccines administered per capita.
Britain has vaccinated more than a third of its population, several times the EU average.
Member states left responsibility for vaccine purchase to the European Union which has come under fierce criticism over its procurement effort.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company, developed a cheap and effective vaccine with the University of Oxford.
However, French president Emmanuel Macron incorrectly labelled it “quasi-ineffective” for the over-65s and many European countries have yet to approve it for older age groups.
In January, the EU threatened to block vaccine supplies to the UK after AstraZeneca revealed a cut in the number of jabs it will deliver to the EU this spring.
This was in response to supply problems at one of AstraZeneca’s European factories.
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However, Brussels reacted with fury and moved to ban vaccine exports to a number of countries including Britain.
As part of this, plans were drawn up to impose a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This move, which critics said would threaten the peace process, was abandoned following outrage in London and Dublin.
Last week, Italy blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia using EU approved rules.
Australia urged the European Commission to review the decision but said it would not substantially affect its vaccine rollout.
Data from England and Scotland shows the AstraZeneca jab is highly effective at preventing death or hospitalisation from coronavirus.
However, whilst the European Medicines Agency insists it is safe for all age groups a number of EU members, including Germany, have still not approved its age for older age groups.
France had restricted its use to those under the age of 65 but has since relented after more information came in.
Britain’s swift vaccination programme is raising hopes of a reopening this summer.
The Government hopes to end all restrictions on socialising in England by June 21 provided infections remain low.
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