Dominic Raab says EU claims of UK Covid vaccine export ban are ‘completely false’

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:21 pm
Dominic Raab says EU claims of UK Covid vaccine export ban are ‘completely false’ (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK has rejected claims from the president of the European Council, suggesting the country had banned all Covid-19 vaccine exports.

Charles Michel wrongly suggested the UK had placed an “outright ban” on exports of vaccines produced in the country.

‘Completely false’

In response, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has written to Mr Michel to say the claims are “completely false”, the BBC reported.

The claims were part of the European Council’s president’s weekly briefing notes, where he dismissed the claims of the EU being vaccine nationalists.

"Here again, the facts do not lie," he wrote.

"The United Kingdom and the United States have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory.

"But the European Union, the region with the largest vaccine production capacity in the world, has simply put in place a system for controlling the export of doses produced in the EU."

In response, the Foreign Secretary is understood to have written to Mr Michel to “set the record straight”, saying the “false claim has been repeated at various levels within the EU and the Commission”.

The letter is understood to add, “The UK government has not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components. Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false."

EU faced production problems

This is the second time the UK and the EU have clashed over the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

The EU has faced numerous production problems with three of the leading vaccines, including delays in the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the distribution of the Moderna vaccine, and a short supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

In January, a move by the EU which introduced a new system of controls of vaccine exports required producers to seek permission from national governments for planned sales, and started a row between the two.

The UK questioned the new system and its potential to override the Northern Ireland Protocol which is part of the Brexit trade arrangements.

The EU continues to struggle with a slow rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine within its nations, compared with the UK, where 22.5 million people have received their first dose.