Emmanuel Macron Accused of Swiping COVID-19 Jab Batch From UK in Manner ‘Akin to Act of War’
As Britain touted its successful coronavirus vaccine rollout in spring as compared to the EU's sluggish delivery of jabs, London’s relations with Paris and Brussels spiralled down when the bloc voiced frustration over a lack of deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused by Tory ministers of acting like a “mini Napoleon” and collaborating with European Union (EU) heads of state to divert a large batch of coronavirus vaccines
originally destined for Britain, reported The Sun.
A batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, expected to arrive in Britain on 22 March this year from the Halix site in Holland, was reportedly diverted by France, in an action that MPs claim could have cost UK lives, said the outlet.
The move, they emphasised, had come in seeming contradiction to statements by France and other EU countries questioning the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab’s effectiveness and safety
Earlier this year, some nations temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine amid concerns over the side effects of the AstraZeneca jab due to very rare cases of blood-clotting. Subsequently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it considers the benefits of the drug to outweigh its risks.
Furthermore, French President Macron had previously claimed the AstraZeneca vaccine did not work in over-65s, branding it
“The French stole our vaccines at the same time as they were slagging them off in public and suggesting they weren’t safe to use,” a government source was cited as saying by the outlet.
Ministers were also cited as comparing the EU’s spring threat to block supplies of Pfizer/BioNTech jabs to the UK, being produced in German manufacturing sites and the drugmaker's manufacturing site in Belgium, as behaviour of a “hostile state” rather than “a close ally”.
“AstraZeneca has made promises to both the UK and the EU that it cannot fulfil. So there will need to be some sort of deal. But it’s worth remembering that these Halix doses are in the EU, and AstraZeneca needs permission to ship any of them to the UK, so the cards are stacked against the UK,” an EU diplomat was cited as saying in spring.
The UK Conservative Party MPs are described as having applauded moves by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to successfully keep the Pfizer vaccine flowing and thus maintaining rollout success.
The reported incident had come as the sluggish EU vaccine rollout compared unfavourably with the successful jab administering campaign across the UK. The EU had decided not to approve vaccines on an emergency basis, unlike Britain.
Furthermore, some European countries had halted rollouts of the AstraZeneca jab due to concerns it can result in side-effects
such as blood clots. At the time, fending off growing criticism over the bloc's troubled inoculation programme, Brussels had become embroiled in a "vaccine war with the UK" over exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
The EU chief Ursula von der Leyen had accused AstraZeneca, which helped develop the Oxford University vaccine, of having "underproduced and underdelivered" to the bloc.
She warned she was "ready to use whatever tool we need" to ensure "Europe gets its fair share", saying that Brussels could trigger article 122 of the EU treaty, which would allow the bloc to take exceptional measures such as seizing production of vaccines and suspending intellectual property rights “if severe difficulties arise in the supply of certain products” to member states.
The UK slammed the EU threat
to block vaccine exports to the UK and other countries with higher vaccine rollouts as "brinkmanship" at the time.