The EU medicines agency has given the bloc a green light to build three new production sites for coronavirus vaccines after weeks of hold-ups and delays. One of the newly approved sites is in the Dutch city of Leiden where many key ingredients for AstraZeneca’s vaccine are sourced. The Leiden plant has been at the centre of a major row between London and Brussels over the supply of doses.
Following the announcement Euronews’ political editor Darren McCaffrey was pressed on whether the move would allow the EU “to take control over the production of AstraZeneca.”
He replied: “I don’t think we are necessarily going to see people storm into the plant in the Netherlands and size vaccines.”
However, he added: “Mark Rutte the Dutch Prime Minister made it clear last night that even though he was reluctantly signing up to these new restrictions and even though he wanted a further assessment of the impact it might have on capacity supply.
“That if the EU Commission did, in the end, decide that they didn’t want some of these AstraZeneca vaccines going from that plant in the Netherlands the Dutch authorities would enforce that, they would ensure that the jabs didn’t go to the UK.”
On Thursday night, EU leaders agreed to support plans for export controls and promised to increase European vaccine manufacturer to counter a fresh wave of coronavirus cases.
Earlier this week, Brussels threatened to ban shipments of doses to the UK to ensure Europeans were able to receive their jabs first.
As part of the move to boost production within the bloc, the European Medicines Agency announced the approval of new factories in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland to manufactured vaccines made respectively by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.
Brussels is under pressure from a faction of EU members who want all shipments of the Oxford vaccine leaving the bloc stopped.
Government Ministers have also looked to reassure Britain’s that the EU’s ultimatum would not impact the immunisation drive at home.
A Government spokesman said: “We are all fighting the same pandemic – vaccines are an international operation, they are produced by collaboration by great scientists around the world. And we will continue to work with our European partners to deliver the vaccine rollout.
“We remain confident in our supplies and are on track to offer first doses to all over 50s by April 15 and all adults by the end of July.
“Our plan to cautiously reopen society via our roadmap also remains unchanged.”