EU ‘may seize control of AstraZeneca production’ warns expert
Talks to help end the stalemate between the UK and EU over jabs made in AstraZeneca’s Halix plant, in Leiden, the Netherlands, are set to take place on Monday. British officials are preparing to argue that the EU has benefited from £84 million in funding for the manufacturing for the AstraZeneca jab, as it was developed by scientists at the University of Oxford. The Sunday Telegraph has reported that the UK will also say there would be no vaccine at all without British investment. It comes adter EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanded Britain release AstraZeneca from its contractual obligation to fulfil UK orders, before then exporting from its two UK factories.
The EU has previously said it could block on a case-by-case basis specific vaccine shipments to countries with higher vaccination rates or that do not export vaccines to the EU.
An EU Commission source said on Saturday: “We are only at the start of discussions with the UK.
“There are no talks over the weekend.”
Maros Sefcovic, the commission vice-president, told The Telegraph that both sides would consider investment in development during talks.
The UK is set to warn the EU to take into account that Britons paid for the jabs
The UK wants its per capita investment to be part of the investment calculations because it is a single country rather than the 27 member states of the bloc.
Britain therefore argues it has proportionately invested more than some individual EU nations.
The Government’s recent spending review also said it has paid more than £6 billion in total to develop and obtain Covid vaccines.
A second EU source also told the Times that the EU has no intention of sharing with Britain the vaccine substance from Halix, which is estimated to have already produced enough for about 15-20 million doses, and can produce the equivalent of five million shots per month.
Ms Leyen threatened to trigger Arcticle 122 of the EU’s treaties, which would allow the bloc to seize factories
Earlier this month, Ms Leyen threatened to trigger Arcticle 122 of the EU’s treaties, which would allow the bloc to seize factories and claim patent and intellectual property rights and export bans.
She said that while the UK had received 10 million vaccines from Europe over the last six weeks, there had been no exports to the EU.
She added that the company’s contract with the bloc counted the two UK factories as part of the EU.
Speaking after an online summit of EU leaders, Ms Von der Leyen said the vaccine company “has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines”.
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The UK wants its per capita investment to be part of the investment calculations
She added: “We have worldwide supply chains that have to be intact and it is of the utmost importance that we get back to an attitude of openness.”
Around 31 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the UK to more than half of the adult population.
This is compared to the more than 60 million jabs given across EU countries, which contain a total population of 446 million.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said: “Frankly, I’m surprised we’re having this conversation.
Ms von der Leyen said that the company’s contract with the bloc counted the two UK factories as part of the EU
“It is normally what the UK and EU team up to reject when other countries with less democratic views than our own engage in that kind of brinkmanship.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also secured assurances from Ms von der Leyen back in January that the UK would not be hit with a vaccine ban.
He later revealed he was goiing to have the AstraZeneca jab.
He said: “It will certainly be Oxford/AstraZeneca that I will be having.”
Mr Johnson’s reassurances came quickly after 17 EU nations, including France and Germnay, halted use of the jab over blood clot fears, despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) saying it was safe.