With leaders of the European Union’s 27 nations meeting today to discuss controversial proposals by the bloc to restrict exports of Covid vaccines, it is in nobody’s interests to start a tit-for-tat series of restrictions and retaliations that harm all sides and end up costing lives.
Vaccine nationalism will only hinder the efforts to reach the ultimate goal – ending this global pandemic and bringing Covid-19 under manageable control across the world.
While more than half of British adults have now received a first vaccine dose – contributing to a sharp decline in Covid hospitalisations and deaths – the picture is different in Europe, where a third wave of coronavirus cases are sweeping the continent and almost 90 per cent of adults are still awaiting an initial vaccination.
It has upped the pressure on EU leaders to act – but as Bernd Lange, chairman of the European Parliament’s international trade committee, has rightly warned the EU “may end up shooting ourselves in the foot” if they make a move that may well interrupt international supply chains for vaccine production.
While the EU claims it has sent 10 million jabs to the UK but received nothing in return, it overlooks the fact that vital components for the Pfizer vaccine manufactured in the UK are being sent to the continent to be produced in Belgium. Any restrictions on the free movement of goods and supply across borders would hurt both Britain and Europe. Politicians need to take stock and look at the bigger picture.
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