Crazed EU chief Ursula von der Leyen threatens to seize all Covid vaccines from UK after bloc’s shambolic jabs roll-out
DESPERATE Europe chief Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to seize vaccines from Britain as she went on the warpath over the EU’s shambolic jabs roll-out yesterday.
In an outburst triggered by our successful inoculation programme she warned “all options are on the table” amid fears that supplies bound for Britain may be halted.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…The EU chief has warned that ‘all options are on the table’[/caption]
The German European Commission president demanded Europe got a bigger share of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — even though most of the continent has halted its use.
And Mrs von der Leyen hinted that the EU was prepared to bend the law to force British-based pharma giant AZ to hand over the vaccine formula.
MPs accused the bloc of behaving like a Stalinist dictatorship.
At a press conference in Brussels, Mrs von der Leyen declared: “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.”
Her threats sparked shock and anger in Downing Street.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the EU was acting like a dictatorship.
He insisted: “Frankly, I’m surprised we’re having this conversation.
“It is normally what the UK and EU team up with to reject when other countries with less democratic regimes engage in that kind of brinkmanship.”
More than 25million people have now been vaccinated in Britain, with half of all adults expected to get the jab by tomorrow evening.
Scientists, medics and ministers have also reassured Brits that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after 20 EU countries, including France, Germany and Spain, suspended its use over unproven concerns about blood clots.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared he will be happy to have the Oxford/AZ vaccine this week.
Meanwhile, two million people who are shielding were told yesterday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that their isolation will end on March 31.
The EU has blamed its shambolic vaccine programme’s problems on AZ not producing enough of the jabs.
Yet, despite countries questioning whether it is safe, Brussels is threatening to hoard millions more doses.
The move would delay Britain’s jabs roll-out, as many of our supplies come from factories on the continent.
Mrs von der Leyen said: “It is hard to explain why vaccines produced in the EU are going to other countries that are also producing vaccines but hardly anything is coming back.
“And the second point of importance for us is on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still in proportion.
“We want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports and we are ready to use whatever tools you need to deliver on that.”
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith savaged the latest EU threat as “a Stalinist level of direction but tinged with incompetence, chaos and contradictions”.
He pointed out Brussels was in “a ridiculous position where they have attacked the so-called ‘British vaccine’ but are now demanding more of it”.
And he told The Sun: “They are just bitter with the UK for having got ahead of them on the vaccine and are desperately trying to shift the blame.”
A No10 spokesman said restrictions on vaccine supply would “endanger global efforts to fight the virus”.
Mr Hancock and Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam both reassured people the Oxford/AZ jab was safe and saving lives.
Mr Van Tam told the No10 press conference yesterday it was crucial to push on.
He added “Vaccines don’t save lives if they’re in fridges. They only save lives if they’re in arms.”
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Mr Hancock said: “The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was produced from research funded by the UK Government, tens of millions of pounds.
“We set up the supply chain, not just here in the UK but we helped set up the supply chain in the EU.
“So, the supply of vaccines from EU production facilities to the UK is indeed fulfilling contractual responsibilities and we fully expect those contracts to be delivered on.”
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