United Kingdom vaccine roll-out to be slower than hoped

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Her comments appeared to make a clear reference to the United Kingdom, which is also using millions of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine produced domestically, and has a far higher rate of vaccination than the EU.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU has approved the export of some 41 million vaccine doses to 33 countries in the last six weeks and believes that it stands at the forefront of worldwide vaccine-sharing efforts.

The certificate will show "whether the person has either been vaccinated, or has a recent negative test, or has recovered from Covid, and thus has antibodies", von der Leyen said.

She added: "In other words, we want reliable deliveries of vaccines, we want to increase in the contracts, we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports and we are ready to use whatever tool we need to deliver on that".

Hancock said that Britain was happy for the shot to be manufactured around the world, but quoted a tweet von der Leyen sent in late January saying "there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities".

In an extraordinary intervention on Wednesday, Ms von der Leyen said that the European Commission was prepared to use whatever "tool" necessary to ensure what it regards as fair access to supplies. "We fully expect those contracts to be delivered on, because there are very significant consequences to breaking contract law".

Mr Raab hit back against Ms von der Leyen's comments.

"We are in the crisis of the century", Ms von der Leyen said as Covid-related deaths in the European Union top 550,000 and less than a tenth of the bloc's population has been inoculated.

"We expect those assurances and legal, contracted supply to be respected", the foreign secretary said.

But a EC official said Mr Dombrovskis made clear in his phone call with Mr Raab that the aim of the EU's export authorisation system was to ensure that deliveries to European Union countries were not disproportionately affected by exports.

Britain's foreign secretary accused the European Commission of "brinkmanship" after it threatened to cut off vaccine exports to countries that do not share their own supplies.

"She confirmed then that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not meant to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling their contractual responsibilities."It remains the case we would expect the European Union to continue to stand by its commitment".

"AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered, and this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign", she told reporters.

But later said it could only provide 40 million doses and more recently, only 30 million.

For the second quarter of 2021, van der Leyen said, AstraZeneca will only deliver 70 million doses, less than half of the 180 million it was "contractually obliged to deliver".

The EU faces an acute shortage of Covid-19 jabs due to reduced deliveries by AstraZeneca and has been in dispute with the pharmaceutical giant about contracted supplies for months.

"With this digital certificate we aim to help member states reinstate the freedom of movement in a safe, responsible and trusted manner".

"And we want to see those vaccines come here so we can support our nearest neighbour PNG and support their urgent needs in our region".

"The vaccine roll-out will be slightly slower than we might have hoped but not slower than the target", he said.



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