Germany’s Green MEP Anna Cavazzini welcomed a rumoured proposal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to share millions of AstraZeneca doses developed in the Netherlands with the EU. The plans have been discussed as a way to deescalate the tension between the UK and Europe regarding vaccine supplies and export ban threats. But Ms Cavazzini believed it did not go far enough and urged the UK government to rewrite its AstraZeneca contract and remove its priority clause.
Appearing on BBC Newsnight, host Emily Maitlis asked the Green MEP about her opinions on vaccine export bans and supplies of vaccinations.
She asked: “What do you make of these reports today that Britain is prepared to share the Dutch made AstraZeneca materials with Holland with the Netherlands to stop that blanket ban?
“I mean would you be expecting Britain to rewrite its contract with AstraZeneca now?”
Ms Cavazzini replied: “I think this is already a first good step and it’s a sign of cooperation.
“Because this is what we need at the moment we need cooperation we cannot fight against each other to fight the virus – the virus is the common enemy.
“We need to see how are we going to really solve this pandemic.
“I think it’s the first step but I would also really like to have this ‘UK first’ clause deleted from the contract because if AstraZeneca is not able to fulfil its contract with the EU why should we not share this problem.
“Why should then the UK get all the vaccines, this is really something that is a little bit unfair and ideally I think this clause should be kicked out of the contract.”
Steve Bates, CEO of the BioIndustry Trade Association, gave his opinion on Ms Cavazzini’s proposal.
He said: “Well, my take on this is we didn’t start this process by arguing about legal positions we started by working out what we can do to make vaccines as fast as possible and as large numbers as possible.
“And I remember when it was Italian productions that were making the vaccines that enabled the clinical trials that happened in the UK.
“I also looked at the fact that there are significant parts of the UK supply chain and the data that comes from the UK their value to Europe.
“Working in partnership, public and private has worked across the EU in the UK and globally is what worked – That’s what we need to work on going forward.”
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In a thinly-veiled threat to the UK, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would consider banning exports to countries that have a high vaccination rate.
AstraZeneca assured the UK that its sites in the country would be able to still provide a decent supply of vaccines regardless of an export ban.
However, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which are created outside of the UK may be affected by the export ban should it be implemented.
As a response, the UK said it would limit or deny exports of materials that were developed in Britain which are used to create the vaccines.
Data analyst Airfinity warned an export ban would slow down the UK’s vaccination efforts by at least two months.