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Weekend Reads Vaccines: London reassured by European guarantees, Brussels admits a "blunder"

17:00  31 january  2021
17:00  31 january  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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SANT-CORONAVIRUS-UNION-GB: Vaccines: London reassured by European guarantees, Brussels admits a "blunder"

VACCINS: LONDRES RASSURÉ PAR LES GARANTIES EUROPÉENNES, BRUXELLES ADMET UNE © Reuters / Reuters Staff VACCINES: LONDON REASSURED BY EUROPEAN GUARANTEES, BRUSSELS ADMITS

"GAFF" LONDON / BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Trade Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday that she had received a guarantee from the European Union that the doses of vaccines ordered by the United Kingdom would be delivered to him, after Brussels admitted having committed a "blunder" by invoking the emergency procedure provided for by the Brexit agreement.

Amid mutual concerns about not having enough doses to maintain a sufficient vaccination rate to stem the coronavirus epidemic, the European Commission announced on Friday that it would impose export controls on vaccines produced on her only

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But in a few hours, she was forced to partially reverse this announcement in the face of British and Irish protests. EU officials have admitted it was a mistake to consider border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland when avoiding such controls has been at the heart of five years of negotiations for a post-Brexit agreement.

"It is vital that we keep borders open, that we resist vaccine nationalism, that we resist protectionism," Liz Truss told Sky News. "We have received assurances from the European Union that these contracts will not be disrupted."

A DELAY THAT IS DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN TO EUROPEAN OPINIONS

The European Union is far behind the United Kingdom and the United States in the race to vaccinate its populations, and this week, European officials angrily welcomed the announcement by the Anglo-Swedish laboratory AstraZeneca of a postponement of most of the deliveries of its promised doses to the EU by March due to production problems in Belgium.

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Europe must explain in its opinion why its member countries vaccinated far fewer people than the United Kingdom, when the latter left the single market four weeks earlier.

She must also explain that if AstraZeneca also produces its vaccine in Great Britain, it excludes redirecting part of its production to the continent as long as its contract with London is not honored.

Meanwhile, Britain is importing doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine manufactured on European soil.

In France, Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said on Friday that he had no regrets about the pan-European strategy for purchasing vaccines. "The idea that France or Germany can have the vaccine, but not their neighbors, makes no sense," he said.

Local elected officials criticized the government for delays in the vaccination schedule due to a lack of sufficient doses. Olivier Véran replied that there had been no cancellations, but that he regretted that 50,000 meetings had to be postponed.

"Of course, there are not yet vaccines for everyone, but we vaccinate just in time, at the rate of deliveries. And we produce wherever possible," said the Minister of Health in the Journal du dimanche .

(Elizabeth Piper, John Chalmers and Andrew MacAskill, Gilles Guillaume for the French version)

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