Britain’s Covid vaccine program faces a two-month delay in the event the EU bans exports, deflecting the government’s plans to reopen the economy this summer, an analysis by The Guardian reveals.
A ban, to be debated by the leaders of the 27 EU member states on Thursday, would severely cripple the UK vaccination effort and likely force the government to extend restrictions on people’s lives.
However, it would not provide a significant boost to troubled programs in EU member states, according to a report by data analytics firm Airfinity.
The comparatively small number of doses that would remain within the block would speed up the full vaccination of all adults in the EU by “just over a week,” the research suggests.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the EU’s reputation was at stake as the 27 heads of state and government prepare to make their decision, warning that “the world is watching.”
“If contracts and commitments are broken, it is very damaging for a trading bloc that prides itself on the rule of law,” he told Sky News. “It is counterproductive because the only thing we know about vaccine production and manufacturing is that it is collaborative.
“They would not only undermine the chances of their own citizens to have an adequate vaccine program, but also of many other countries in the world, with damage to the reputation of the EU that would be very difficult for them to change in the short term.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week that the EU was considering “all options” and ready to introduce emergency controls on vaccine production and distribution to deal with the “crisis of the century.” .
The 27 heads of state and government will discuss next steps on Thursday via video conference, amid growing concern about a third wave of coronavirus infections on the continent. Plans to meet in person were canceled Sunday in light of an increase in infections.
France and Germany have spoken privately in support of the activation of Article 122 of the EU treaty, last used in the oil crisis of the 1970s, allowing the bloc to take emergency measures to control distribution. of essential goods.
EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said on Sunday: “European citizens are increasingly angry and upset that the launch of the vaccine has not happened as quickly as we had anticipated.”
EU member states had administered 10.4 doses of vaccine per 100 people as of Saturday, compared to 42.7 injections administered per 100 in the United Kingdom.
Approximately 10 million doses of vaccine have been exported from plants in EU member states to the UK, largely by Pfizer / BioNTech. The UK is expecting around 30 million more doses from Pfizer and 30 million from Johnson & Johnson, although only a few of them were expected to be delivered by the end of the summer.
The UK government was until the last fortnight on track to exceed its goal of administering a first dose of vaccine to all adults in the UK by the end of July in more than six weeks, according to Airfinity.
A recent supply problem at the AstraZeneca facility in India is expected to delay the vaccination rate by two weeks from June 10-23.
But imposing an export ban on doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine produced in Belgium and Germany, by far the largest export to the UK, would delay every adult receiving a first puncture until August 5, according to Airfinity.
A ban on all exports of vaccines to be distributed, including those from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, would delay achieving that goal until Aug. 27, further suggests the analysis commissioned by The Guardian.
Rasmus Bech Hansen, Airfinity CEO, said: “Export bans are a lose-lose situation and threaten increased global production.
“Imposing a ban would mean that the EU has marginally more doses in the short term, but it will not fundamentally change its vaccine availability, and the EU could soon be dependent on vaccine imports.
“A ban poses a significant risk to the UK and any potential UK retaliation on sub-ingredients would hurt not only the EU and UK, but the world as well as it would significantly slow down overall production.”
Airfinity’s estimate is based on the time it would take for the UK to deliver at least one dose to 75% of its population, which equates to an absorption of more than 95% from adults.
The EU has set a goal of fully vaccinating 70% of the population by the end of the summer.
According to Airfinity, the EU aims to fully vaccinate 75% of the population by August 31 despite current difficulties, including a lack of supply of AstraZeneca.
Their analysis suggests that if the EU “maintains and uses the doses destined for the UK, it would only advance them by just over a week [19 August], since its collective population is much greater ”.
The commission and the governments of its member states have been enraged by the fact that AstraZeneca failed to deliver the promised 120 million doses of its vaccine this quarter, while continuing to fulfill its contractual obligations to the UK government.
The company has noted the seed funding provided for its collaboration with the University of Oxford by the UK government, and its corporate policy of creating bespoke supply chains for the EU and UK.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism