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Britons furious as Ursula von der Leyen shot down over ‘ridiculous’ vaccine war on UK

Vaccine: Nick Ferrari says EU ‘putting citizens at risk'

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The Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca has failed to deliver 180 million doses to European states since it signed a contract to supply the bloc signed last August. It comes as more than 24 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a covid vaccine. Now the European Commission president has lashed out at the UK for soaring ahead with vaccines as Mrs von der Leyen said she would no longer tolerate vaccines being manufactured in Europe to be shipped to Britain while member states faced shortages.

EU leaders are expected to discuss triggering the bloc’s Article 122 emergency powers at a summit of European leaders next week in Brussels, which will allow the block to take control and block exports.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has demanded that the EU deliver on its vaccine promises rather than react in this way, as he warned there are “very significant consequences” to breaking contract law.

Express.co.uk readers also reacted with fury Mrs von der Leyen’s plot to interfere with exports.

One person wrote: “She obviously doesn’t realise how ridiculous she sounds.

“They are refusing to use the AstraZeneca jab, while at the same time refusing to send it to Australia, and now the UK, because they don’t think they are getting their fair share.

“You really couldn’t make it up!”

Another added: “That’s all fine, then we stop all shipments of the ingredients to produce the vaccine.”

A third person said: “So when the EU block exports to the UK and in response the UK block the export of vaccine and ingredients from the UK used to produce the vaccine in the EU, the EU won’t complain will they?”

A fourth reader did not hold back as they simply just said: “Ursula, get a grip.”

Mrs von der Leyen singled out the UK as “country number one” of those benefiting from EU vaccine exports.

She told a Brussels news conference: “It’s hard to explain to our citizens why vaccines produced in the EU are going to other countries that are also producing vaccines, while hardly anything is coming back.

“All options are on the table – we are in the crisis of the century and I’m not ruling out anything for now because we have to make sure Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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“We want to see that there is a flow, not only in one direction, but vice versa.”

Mr Hancock urged Mrs von der Leyen to “live up to the commitments and statements” she has made and “work together” across borders to ensure all populations are vaccinated.

Speaking in the Commons following a statement from Mr Hancock today, former health secretary Mr Hunt warned it is “incredibly dangerous” for anybody to be making threats to the supplies of vaccines when they are “the only way the world is going to get out of our Covid straitjacket”.

He told MPs: “Was (Matt Hancock) as concerned as I was by comments by former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb on the Today programme this morning about the threat by the Commission President to block exports to countries that were ahead in their vaccination programme?

“He said that was a political reality.

“Irrespective of any breach of legal contracts that it might involve.

“Does (Mr Hancock) not agree it’s incredibly dangerous to make threats to the supplies of vaccines and components, alongside casting aspersions over their safety, at the very moment when vaccines are the only way the world is going to get out of our Covid straitjacket?”

Mr Hancock responded: “I agree with every word that (Mr Hunt) has said.

“I think that it is vital that we all work together.

“Irrespective of any breach of legal contracts that it might involve.

“Does (Mr Hancock) not agree it’s incredibly dangerous to make threats to the supplies of vaccines and components, alongside casting aspersions over their safety, at the very moment when vaccines are the only way the world is going to get out of our Covid straitjacket?”

Mr Hancock responded: “I agree with every word that (Mr Hunt) has said.

“I think that it is vital that we all work together.These supply chains for the manufacture of these vaccines cross borders.

“They are often global supply chains and it is vital that we work together to deliver them and there is a need for that co-operation and there is of course a need for all countries to respect contract law.

“That is the basis of international trade and I’m sure that the European Union will live up to the commitments and statements that it has made, including president von der Leyen herself who has said that there should not be restrictions on companies when they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.

“Of course there should not and we fully expect those contracts to be delivered on because there are very significant consequences to breaking contract law.”

The European Medicines Agency’s executive director Emer Cooke has said the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is a “safe and effective vaccine”.

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