Pfizer warns EU to back down on threats to block vaccine exports to UK as essential ingredients are made in Yorkshire
PFIZER has urged the EU to back down on its threats to block vaccine exports to the UK as essential ingredients are made in Yorkshire.
The drugmaker warned that production could “grind to a halt” if Britain retaliates, sparking further jab chaos on the continent.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…Pfizer has urged the EU to back down on its threats to block vaccine exports to the UK[/caption]
Yorkshire-based chemicals firm Croda International has been delivering “fatty molecules” to Pfizer’s EU factories since signing a five-year contract in November.
Pfizer, and its partner BioNTech, have told the EU that Britain can strike back against any export ban by withholding vital materials, The Telegraph reports.
The warning comes after EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen threatened to seize vaccines from Britain as she demanded Europe got a bigger share of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The pharmaceutical company has it is already facing a shortage of lipid nanoparticles – the specialised molecules used to coat its MRNA vaccine.
A senior Pfizer source warned the company was “heavily dependent” on supplies of these ingredients from the UK.
They said: “They [Pfizer/BioNTech] told the commission that if the UK shuts down the lipids then the whole process grinds to a halt in weeks.”The drugmaker warned that production could “grind to a halt” if Britain retaliates[/caption]
A Pfizer spokesman added: “We have been clear with all stakeholders that the free movement of goods and supply across borders is absolutely critical to Pfizer and the patients we serve.”
And BioNTech chief operating officer Sierk Poetting has previously warned that any export restrictions could endanger the supply and it could take up to eight months to boost production.
He said: “We need kilos and kilos and kilos of that stuff.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is also reliant on components shipped from the US and Canada.
A spokesman for Croda International said: “We manufacture components within the UK that we ship to Pfizer facilities in multiple locations, including Belgium.”
A Pfizer spokesman added: “We are working closely with governments around the world, including the UK Government and the European Commission, to ensure the supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in accordance with the agreed schedules.”
The EU’s shambolic jab rollout has been plagued by issue after issue.
EU leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, were criticised earlier this year for making baseless allegations about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab in older patients, which has fuelled a wave of anti-vax sentiment.
The bloc also sparked a diplomatic row with Britain after threatening to block exports of the jab in January amid a furious spat with Astrazeneca over the delivery of millions of doses.
Leaders later admitted was a political decision.
But it damaged confidence in the AstraZeneca jab meaning uptake across Europe has been low.
A string of EU leaders were forced into an embarrassing U-turn after the unsubstantiated ban – against the recommendation of the World Health Organization.
Within minutes of the EU regular saying the jab was “safe and effective”, Italy, France and Germany resumed rollout.
France resumed use of the vaccine yesterday with Prime Minister Jean Castex having the jab live on television in a bid to bolster public confidence.
And Boris Johnson received his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday evening.
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The PM gave a double thumbs-up to mark the occasion as he was given the jab at Westminster Bridge Vaccination Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London shortly after 6.30pm.
Leaving hospital he told reporters: “I literally did not feel a thing and so it was very good, very quick and I cannot recommend it too highly.”
The UK is on the verge of reaching the major milestone of giving more than 50 per cent of the adult population their first dose of coronavirus vaccine.
Government data up to March 18 suggests that 49.9 per cent of Brits aged 18 and over have received a first dose, with an estimated 73,000 more jabs needed to pass the halfway mark.
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