LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Thursday it must receive all the Covid-19 vaccines it has requested and paid for, after the European Union asked AstraZeneca whether it could divert supplies of Oxford-developed vaccines from Britain.
The European Union, which is lagging far behind the United States, China and Britain in launching a vaccine, has asked AstraZeneca to explain how it will supply the block with reserved doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from factories in Europe and Britain.
AstraZeneca, which is headquartered in Cambridge, England, offered to deliver some of its vaccine shipments to the European Union, which required the drug company to divert doses from the UK to make up for the shortage of supplies.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC Radio: “I think we need to make sure that the vaccine supplies that have been purchased and paid for, that have been purchased for those in the UK, have been delivered.”
“Our priority should be to make sure that the people at risk in our country who have been targeted by vaccination take those hits with those weapons,” Goff said.
When asked repeatedly by the BBC whether the British government will prevent AstraZeneca from diverting essential vaccine supplies from Britain to the European Union, Goff said the important thing is that Britain received its orders as planned and on time.
“It is true that supplies that have been planned, paid for and scheduled must continue,” Goff told the BBC.
Sure, there won’t be a break in that.
“But again, I think the correct approach to take with our friends in Europe is to make sure that we reinforce the cooperative dialogue to see how we can do everything we can to help.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday it would have been “extremely regrettable” if the UK had stayed in the European Union’s vaccination program instead of developing its own.