Vaccine: MEP grilled on EU’s ‘protectionism’ of securing doses
He questioned why “some people are making up stories” about the effectiveness of the jab, which is key to Britain’s campaign to end the coronavirus pandemic. His remarks come after it was claimed vaccine produced by the UK-based firm was only eight percent effective for over-65s. “I would really like to call on people to really focus on the details and focus on the regulators,” he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“There is a lot of silly talk going on right now about all sorts of things.
“Some people making up stories, for what reason? I’m not sure.”
AstraZeneca is at the centre of a row over the European Union’s slow roll-out of Covid jabs.
Brussels has accused the firm, who, with Oxford University, developed one of the main vaccines used in the UK, of failing to deliver promised supplies in Europe.
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EU chiefs are furious millions of Britons have been vaccinated while many European countries are struggling to roll out their own programmes.
Mr Soriot hit back at the EU over the claims that his company had failed to deliver promised supplies in Europe.
He said the bloc’s supply is behind the UK’s because it signed the contract so much later.
He added: “I can only tell you the facts, and the facts are that we basically signed an agreement with the UK three months before we did it with Europe.”
Mr Soriot also pushed back against potential legal challenges from across the bloc.
The AstraZeneca chief executive insisted his firm only had a “best effort” agreement with the bloc rather than a fixed commitment.
He said: “It’s not a commitment we have to Europe – it’s a best effort. Europe wanted to be supplied more or less at the same time as the UK even though the contract was signed three months later.
“We said we’re going to try, but we cannot commit contractually because we’re three months behind.”
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Angry EU bosses are planning a clampdown on the export of vaccine as a result of the row.
Critics of Brussels have blamed EU bureaucracy for the delays.
German MEP Gunnar Beck said Britain’s successful vaccine scheme was a “nightmare” for Europe’s bosses.
He said: “The [bloc’s] slow, dysfunctional approach has been a huge failure for the commission.
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“It’s a nightmare for the EU that Brexit Britain’s vaccine scheme is working better than the EU’s.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night warned Brussels not to impose restrictions.
At a Downing Street news conference, he said: “I don’t want to see restrictions on the supply of vaccines or their ingredients.”
The Prime Minister insisted all countries should work together as “the virus knows no borders”.
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