EU stops short of vaccine export controls after summit

The European Union has stopped short of export controls on vaccines after leaders met at a summit to discuss the issue of shortfalls in supply.

At the meeting of the European Council leaders said that toughening export controls was an option but a post-summit statement emphasised the importance of global supply chains to produce vaccines.

In the statement European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen laid the blame on the vaccine shortfall squarely on AstraZeneca’s shoulders.

So far the Anglo-Swedish drug maker has not managed to get its European supply operations up to speed with its UK factories.

However the EU ordered its doses three months later than the UK and the issue has been compounded by low yields from AZ’s EU manufacturing network.

The EU now wants AZ to catch up on deliveries to the EU before exporting doses elsewhere.

In a statement von der Leyen said: “We want to make sure that Europe gets its fair share of vaccines. Because we must be able to explain to our citizens that if companies export their vaccines to the whole world, it is because they are fully honouring their commitments and it does not risk security of supply in the European Union.”

The EU has been accused by the World Health Organization and the UK of “vaccine nationalism” after it introduced expert controls on vaccines produced in the bloc.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said that “blockades” are not “sensible” – he argues that as well as jeopardising the UK’s vaccination programme.

Before the meeting the UK and EU issued a joint statement, where both sides pledged to work together after weeks of tensions over the AZ vaccine.

The AZ vaccine is the mainstay of the UK’s vaccination programme, which has seen nearly 45 people in every 100 receive their shots, compared with just under 13 people per 100 in the EU.

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