The UK has wrapped up plans to send a warning to the EU over its moves on the vaccine, clarifying that it needs to remember that millions of pounds were invested by British taxpayers to help the establishment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, in a last attempt to stop the bloc’s export ban, reports say.
Efforts to end the stalemate between the UK and EU over jabs produced in AstraZeneca’s Halix plant, in Leiden, the Netherlands, will continue on Monday. However, British reps. are set to argue that the EU, of course, has benefited from £84 million in funding for the production of the AstraZeneca jab, as it was developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.
The UK is also preparing to inform the EU that there would be no vaccine at all without the funds released by Britain. This follows the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demand for Britain to release AstraZeneca from its contractual obligation to fulfil UK orders, before then exporting from its two UK factories.
Meanwhile, the EU has previously said it could block on a case-by-case basis specific vaccine shipments to countries with higher vaccination rates or that do not export vaccines to the EU, with an EU Commission source saying on Saturday, “We are only at the start of discussions with the UK. There are no talks over the weekend.”
The EU commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic told The Telegraph that both the EU and the UK would consider investment in development during negotiations. The UK wants its per capita investment to be part of the investment calculations because it is a single country rather than the 27 member states of the bloc.
Britain maintains that it has invested more than some individual EU nations, with the government’s recent spending review showing that it has paid more than £6 billion in total to develop and obtain Covid-19 vaccines.
Another EU source disclosed to the Times that the EU is not preparing to share with Britain the vaccine substance from Halix, which is estimated to have produced enough for about 15-20 million doses already and can produce the equivalent of five million shots per month.
The Commission president Ms Leyen, earlier this month, threatened to trigger Article 122 of the EU’s treaties, which would allow the bloc to seize factories and claim patent and intellectual property rights and export bans.
Ms Leyen claimed that while the UK had received 10 million vaccines from Europe over the last six weeks, there hasn’t been exports to the EU. She also added that the company’s contract with the bloc counted the two UK factories as part of the EU.
Speaking after an online summit of EU leaders, Ms Von der Leyen said the vaccine company “has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states before it can engage again in exporting vaccines”.
“We have worldwide supply chains that have to be intact and it is of the utmost importance that we get back to an attitude of openness,” She added.
About 31 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the UK to more than half of the adult population. This is compared to the more than 60 million jabs given across EU countries, which contain a total population of 446 million.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said, “Frankly, I’m surprised we’re having this conversation. It is normally what the UK and EU team up to reject when other countries with less democratic views than our own engage in that kind of brinkmanship.”