British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday denied any blocking of coronavirus vaccine exports, after accusations from the EU to this effect. “We have not blocked the export of any vaccine against Covid-19 or any component of the vaccine,” the head of government told MPs. “This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the fight for health in the world. We oppose vaccine nationalism in all its forms, ”he said during the weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament.
In a text published online, the President of the European Council Charles Michel denounced the “export bans” of the United States and the United Kingdom, attracting an immediate denial from London. Charles Michel has since backed down, saying in a tweet Tuesday evening “happy” that the British reaction leads to “more transparency and an increase in exports, to the EU and third countries”.
“A response is in preparation” on the European side
The UK summoned Deputy EU Ambassador to London Nicola Mannion on Wednesday and British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab wrote a letter to Charles Michel in protest. He affirms that “the British government has not blocked any export of Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine component”, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to a European official, “a response is in preparation” on the European side, stressing that the EU exports 30% of its vaccines, while the British “do not give any figures”.
This new incident comes just over a month after a diplomatic misstep on the part of the EU: Brussels wanted to use an emergency provision of the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland after a row with London over the issue of the UK vaccine supply against Covid-19. In the face of the outcry, the EU quickly backed down.