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EU – again – threatens to block coronavirus vaccine exports to UK

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to block the export of coronavirus vaccines to the UK amid an ongoing row over the supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

The European Commission president criticised the British-Swedish firm on Wednesday for having “underproduced and underdelivered” to the bloc.

She said the EU will consider halting vaccine exports to countries with higher coverage rates than its own, as it struggles to achieve the pace of rollout managed in the UK.

Downing Street urged the EU to “stand by its commitment” not to restrict exports, with the Pfizer jab being produced in BioNTech’s German manufacturing sites as well as in Pfizer’s own site in Belgium.

Under pressure and with parts of the EU on the “crest of a third wave” of infections, von der Leyen warned she is “ready to use whatever tool we need” to ensure the reliable delivery of vaccines.

She told reporters in Brussels: “We are exporting a lot to countries that are themselves producing vaccines and we think this is an invitation to be open, so that we also see exports from those countries coming back to the European Union.

“The second point that is of importance to us: we will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.

“We want reliable deliveries of vaccines, we want 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. This is about making sure that Europe gets its fair share.”

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