London, March 10 (AFP/APP):Britain on Wednesday emphatically rejected EU claims it had slapped a ban on Covid vaccine exports, in the latest spat over supply since Brexit took full effect.
European Council chief Charles Michel had claimed London had imposed an “outright ban on the export vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory”.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit back, after government officials summoned a senior EU official for a meeting to “set the record straight”.
“Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components,” he told lawmakers in parliament.
“This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the battle for global health. We oppose vaccine nationalism in all its forms.”
Johnson’s comments came after a swift denial from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday night, who called Michel’s assertion “completely false”.
Michel later backtracked but not before the deputy head of the EU mission to the UK, Nicole Mannion, was hauled into the foreign ministry, and London fired off a strongly worded letter.
The EU argues that while 30 percent of the vaccines produced in the bloc have been exported, Britain has not published any data on how many vaccines produced on its soil have been sent overseas.
Britain has only two factories, which produce the AstraZeneca vaccine. The contract signed between the company and the British government gives priority to the domestic inoculation drive.
Michel said he was “shocked” by accusations of “vaccine nationalism” against the EU after the introduction at the end of January of an export control mechanism for vaccines produced in the bloc.
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