World

How the EU vaccine row could escalate

28 January 2021

3:09 AM

28 January 2021

3:09 AM

The EU is now insisting that AstraZeneca use vaccine produced at its UK site to make up for a shortfall in its supplies to the EU. This is likely to kick off a major row as the UK went to great trouble to ensure that it had first refusal on all the Oxford vaccine produced in the UK. Indeed, AstraZeneca’s willingness to accept that condition is a major reason why Oxford ended up partnering with them.

It is not hard to see how this situation could escalate. The EU is already saying that companies should notify them before exporting vaccine out of the bloc, and the German government is going further, calling for full on export controls on vaccines. If AstraZeneca refuses to comply with Brussels’s demand, the EU could put pressure on Pfizer, which makes its vaccine in Belgium, to stop exporting it out of the EU.

Ultimately, this vaccine nationalism is unlikely to work out well – especially given how Russia and China are trying to use their vaccine to advances their strategic interests in various parts of the world.

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