EU-Britain vaccine dispute: Why are there talks about European Union blocking exports to Britain?
EU-Britain vaccine dispute: Why are there talks about European Union blocking exports to Britain?

Looks like Britain and the European Union (EU) have entered into a disagreement over COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca has signed agreements with Britain and with the European Union to supply vaccines. And now Brits are insisting that vaccine produced by AstraZeneca's subcontractor in the Netherlands be shipped to Britain.

According to Reuters, the former EU member, Britain, has administered more COVID-19 vaccines than EU countries in proportion to the population.

Keeping this in mind, the EU is expected to take a stand whereby it will refuse export of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands factory to Britain.

"The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn't work," the official told Reuters.

The Netherlands-based plant is operated by Halix. As per the agreement, sub-contractor Halix is listed as a supplier of vaccines in both the contracts that AstraZeneca has signed with Britain and with the European Union.

The EU is insisting that what is produced in Halix will be administered to the EU population. Meanwhile, Brits are insisting the EU should comply with the agreement.

At present, the vaccine maker, AstraZeneca, is in a position where it cannot take a call of this jab war. According to a source, the UK is using a clause in its supply contract that prevents export of its vaccines until the British market is fully inoculated.

According to various reports, European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyen told German newspapers that the continent has the power to ban exports if the pharma firm didn't meet its supply obligations to the EU. While the EU maintains that it is not breaking any contract, UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace stated the decision to block exports will be counterproductive.

"The European Commission will know that the rest of the world is looking at the Commission, about how it conducts itself on this, and if contracts get broken, and undertakings, that is a very damaging thing to happen for a trading bloc that prides itself on the rules of law," said Wallace to Sky News.

AstraZeneca has not yet sought approval in the EU for Halix, but the official and a second EU source said the request was on its way. Without regulatory approval, vaccines produced at Halix cannot be used in the EU.

Two factories in Britain run by Oxford Biomedica and Cobra Biologics are also listed as suppliers to the EU in the contract with AstraZeneca, but no vaccine has so far been shipped from Britain to the EU.

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