EU leaders last week stopped short of imposing bans on coronavirus vaccine exports after a prolonged dispute with the UK. Much of the outburst is a result of the EU’s repeatedly stalling mass vaccination programme, which has each week fallen behind the UK. For the second time, European Commission President Ms von der Leyen threatened to cut-off vaccines travelling to Britain from production facilities in Europe.
Following the decision not to blockade vaccines, she said the Oxford-based AstraZeneca jab – which has plants in Europe – must “catch up” on deliveries to the EU before exporting doses elsewhere.
Yet, many European nations earlier this month suspended using the AstraZeneca vaccines over fears, later denounced, that it caused blood clots – and after French President Emmanuel Macron wrongly suggested it was “quasi-ineffective” in the over-65s.
A mounting number of AstraZeneca vaccines were then left in fridges after being rejected by European citizens following weeks of bad publicity.
Ms von der Leyen and the EU’s actions are things which Dr John McCauley said will likely cause the death of countless people in the future.
The Director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre, a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centres for Influenza told Express.co.uk: “We’ve got to bare in mind what Jonathan Van Tam said: that there’s no point in having vaccine sitting in the fridge, because it does nothing.
“You need it in people’s arms. Every day is a delay. People die every day.
“You stop vaccinating for a day, it isn’t those people, but it’s the people in the future.
“People are going to be dying because of one day delay that they needn’t have done.
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The EU’s repeated threats come as it was concerned that the UK had an unfair advantage in contracts it signed with vaccine manufacturers.
In late March, the bloc drew attention to the 10.9 million jabs it had exported to the UK since February.
However, it said it was not aware of any vaccines having gone the other way.
On condition of not banning UK exports last week, the EU called for more transparency from the UK and other countries on the number of doses they have exported, also urging AstraZeneca to deliver what it had promised.
While the vaccine crisis rages on, Mr Johnson and EU leaders agree on how the world needs to prepare for future pandemics.
Joined by Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who are considered leading EU figures – Mr Johnson said the coronavirus pandemic had been a “stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”.
The idea is backed by countries around the world, including Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Kenya, Greece, Chile, South Korea, Costa Rica, South Africa, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, and Norway.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: “There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies.
“No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone.
“Together we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly-coordinated fashion.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”