AstraZeneca: Expert slams 'nonsense' claims about vaccine
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The might of Global Britain post-Brexit has been demonstrated by the rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine across the world, the Prime Minister said. He praised the UK for leading the way after striking a deal that would allow the jab to be distributed at cost.
Mr Johnson said the deal struck by Westminster would help achieve immunity from coronavirus across the globe.
In a pointed dig at the EU’s row with AstraZeneca, he added post-Brexit Britain would not “swagger or strike attitudes” but use its force for good.
Brussels has had a frictious relationship with the drugs manufacturer so far, with tensions ramped up a notch yesterday when several EU states suspended the use of the vaccine due to concerns over blood clots in a small number of people who had received the jab.
Both the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation have continued to say the vaccine is safe for use, raising eyebrows as to whether more political motives lie behind the suspension.
Boris Johnson has hailed Britain’s vaccination drive (Image: PA)
Tensions between AstraZeneca and the EU exploded in January when the drugs company said deliveries to the continent would be lower than promised for several months, in the weeks that followed a series of negative briefings were made about the Oxford vaccines, including French President Emmanuel Macron claiming it was “quasi-ineffective” in older people.
Mr Johnson has promised Britain will use its power to prevent such “squabbling” undermining the response to future global pandemics.
“The objective of Global Britain is not to swagger or strike attitudes on the world stage.
“It is to use the full spectrum of our abilities, now amplified by record spending on both defence and science, to engage with and help the rest of the world,” he wrote in The Times.
“The UK is using its G7 presidency to foster ideas for a new world treaty on pandemic preparedness so that next time humanity avoids the sauve qui peut squabbling that has disfigured the last 12 months.
“There is work to be done on the sharing of data, on the tracking of zoonotic diseases, on quarantine protocols and how to marshal drugs and personal protective equipment.”
Which countries have suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine? (Image: EXPRESS)
The Prime Minister also appeared to criticise the EU for its slow rollout of jabs across the continent, saying the world would not be safe from coronavirus until every country had rolled out vaccines to combat the virus.
He said: “Successful as the UK vaccination programme may be, there is little point in achieving some isolated national immunity.
“We need the whole world to be protected.
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Boris Johnson took a sly dig at the EU’s behaviour during the vaccine rollout (Image: PA)
While the EU struggles, Britain has given a jab to move than 24 million people (Image: PA)
“We need the whole world to have the confidence to open up for trade and travel and holidays and business, all the things that drive jobs and improve our lives at home.”
Over 24 million people in the UK have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with half of all adults likely to have had a jab by the end of the week.
However, in the EU the uptake of the vaccines has been much slower.
Highlighting how Britain was already leading the way in helping the global immunisation drive, he said it was thanks to the UK so many poorer countries had been able to secure doses of coronavirus jabs.
Covid vaccinations latest (Image: EXPRESS)
Under the terms of the deal struck with Oxford University for the coronavirus jab, vaccines have to be dispensed at cost across the globe.
It means the British-develop Covid antidote is far cheaper than many of the alternatives meaning more can be distributed to lower-income countries.
Mr Johnson said: “You may wonder why we have done it that way, or why the taxpayer has already spent hundreds of millions of pounds, through Covax and other schemes, to put jabs in the arms of other populations.
“The answer is blindingly obvious — the principle of enlightened self-interest.”
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