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.
Ms von der Leyen said the bloc would use “whatever tool” it needed to ensure doses reached its citizens, including seizing production of vaccines, and singled out the UK as “country number one” in terms of exports from the EU.
The European Union’s delivery of Covid vaccines has been far slower than the rollout in the UK, where nearly 25 million adults have now had their first dose.
With the EU facing a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and less than a tenth of its population vaccinated, Von der Leyen accused AstraZeneca of having “underproduced and underdelivered” to the bloc.
“We are in the crisis of the century,” she told a news briefing.
“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.”
Ms von der Leyen spoke as six EU countries complained about reduced deliveries that are hampering the bloc’s troubled inoculation programme.