World

Foreign sec calls EU threat to block vaccine exports to UK and others ‘brinkmanship’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to block vaccine exports to the UK and other countries with markedly higher rollouts of coronavirus jabs.

The EU’s delivery of COVID vaccines has been slower compared with the UK rollout, where nearly 25 million adults have now had their first dose.

With the bloc facing a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Ms von der Leyen said: “We are in the crisis of the century.

“If this situation does not change, we will have to reflect on how to make exports to vaccine-producing countries, dependent on their level of openness.

“We will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.”

The 27-nation bloc has been facing an acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines for some time.

Ms von der Leyen spoke as six EU countries complained to Brussels about reduced deliveries that are hampering the bloc’s troubled inoculation programme.

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She has previously admitted a country on its own – such as the UK – can act as a “speedboat” compared with the EU’s “tanker” in the delivery of COVID-19 jabs.

Her latest comments risk escalating tensions with the UK and US over their restrictive approach to deliveries of vaccines in the EU.

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