UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lashed out at the EU over allegations that Britain banned COVID-19 vaccine exports.
“Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components. This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the battle for global health, we oppose vaccine nationalism in all its forms”, Johnson underscored.
He added that Britain should be "proud" of the success of its vaccine rollout so far, as well as the £548 million ($760 million) that London had invested in the COVAX initiative for fairer international distribution of the vaccine.
European Council President Accuses UK of Vaccine Exports Ban
The statement comes after European Council President Charles Michel accused the UK of imposing “an outright ban on the export of [coronavirus] vaccines or vaccine components produced” on British territory.
Michel also rejected accusations of "vaccine nationalism" against the EU after the bloc faced criticism for its vaccine rollout, noting that he was "shocked" by such charges.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was quick to respond to the claims by noting in a letter to Michel that he "wanted to set the record straight" and that "the UK government has not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components".
"Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false. We are all facing this pandemic together", the foreign secretary pointed out.
The UK's Foreign Office has, meanwhile, said that a senior representative of the EU's delegation to the UK had been summoned to a meeting at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office “to discuss the issue of incorrect assertions in recent EU communications”.
The UK kicked off its nationwide vaccination campaign on 8 December, with more than 20 million UK nationals already having received a vaccine. Those first in line to receive the shot were senior citizens aged 70 and over, health and care workers and people with extreme underlying conditions.