United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to talk to his European Union (EU) counterparts later this week as a brewing row over Covid-19 vaccine supplies continues, news agency PTI reported on Monday, citing media reports. EU leaders will hold a virtual meeting this week to discuss a ban on Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine exports to the UK as it tries to secure its own supplies of the vaccine for EU citizens.
The European Commission president says the EU can “forbid” vaccines made on the continent from being sent to the UK. Meanwhile, Johnson is expected to put up a resistance to the EU’s proposed move, the BBC reported. The latest row appears to revolve around doses of the Oxford University vaccine made in a Dutch factory.
The UK is pushing for “strictly controlling” the risk of travellers importing new variants of the deadly virus into the country. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday that a spike in coronavirus cases in neighbouring European countries could put gains from the vaccination programme at risk.
The country is also warning citizens against booking summer holidays abroad at the moment, PTI reported. The EU has encountered production problems with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, which is being related to timings of when contracts were signed for these deliveries.
It comes into sharp focus as much-anticipated results from a US trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs involving more than 32,000 volunteers revealed that the vaccine is “safe and highly effective”.
Several European leaders paused the rollout of the vaccine amid concerns of a possible link with blood clots, which is since being lifted as UK and EU regulators had said there was no evidence the vaccine causes blood clots.
On Sunday, the UK recorded another 5,312 coronavirus cases, taking the total tally to 4,296,583. Also, 33 deaths were reported, taking the UK’s total to 126,155.
Also, more than 27.6 million people in the UK – more than half the adult population – have now received at least one dose of a vaccine.
(With inputs from PTI)