EU vaccine plan slammed by Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná
Brexit gave Britain the opportunity to implement its own strategy on vaccinations, those working behind the scenes have admitted. The UK has immunised more than four million people to date, far more than any EU country.
While it would have technically been possible to use emergency powers to approve medical use of the Pfizer and Oxford University jabs while in the EU, the UK would have been forced to join bloc’s vaccine purchase programme.
“Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to leave the EU, if we were still a member state we wouldn’t be this far ahead”, one insider said.
“At the time, a lot of people said it was madness.
“They said it was putting Brexit over lives.”
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Speaking to The Telegraph, another described it as the “best decision we’ve made in the whole pandemic”.
While still under Brussels rules are part of the transition period, the UK was invited to join the EU’s vaccination programme, purchasing does of the antidotes through the bloc.
But participation in the programme came at a cost, with the UK forced so surrender control over purchases and distribution.
The EU wanted to be solely in charge of the programme despite Britain breaking off from the bloc.
An official said: “There was a complete loss of control and complete loss of say over the entire strategy.
“We told the EU, we can’t participate like this.
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“For a few weeks we tried to negotiate on governance – basically we were saying we would only take part if we had more of a say.
“But the EU wouldn’t move.”
Last July the UK wrote the EU to reject the offer and to organise its own vaccinations.
Since then Britain has successfully secured 357 million doses of jabs from seven different candidates, enough to vaccinate the UK three times over.
On average 140 people are inoculated very minute in the UK, with plans to ramp up daily jabs in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in the EU bitter rows have broken out as member states express anger and frustration at the lacklustre pace of its own inoculation programme.
Supplies were not distributed to member states until the last weekend of December – almost a month after it had been approved for use in the UK – and some member states have criticised the limited supply of jabs.
Coronavirus vaccines are being distributed based on population size, meaning some states are receiving more doses than others.
The EU has also been forced to order extra supplies of the BioNTech/Pfizer drug after originally only having enough vaccines to inoculate half the population of the bloc.
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