The UK and EU have said they are working ‘to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens’.
The comments came in a joint statement on Wednesday after discussions between the UK Government and the European Union on the topic of ensuring a ‘reciprocally beneficial relationship’ between the two parties during the pandemic.
So far, the UK has a much higher vaccination rate per 100 people than the EU and there have been much lower vaccine supply levels than promised reaching the EU from AstraZeneca.
There have been tensions between the EU and UK in recent weeks, with suggestions that the EU could block exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the UK. Blockades of vaccines being exported outside the EU could slow down the UK’s vaccination rollout, with vaccine doses being procured from a number of locations around the world.
The joint statement from the European Commission and the UK Government on Wednesday read;
“We are all facing the same pandemic and the third wave makes cooperation between the EU and UK even more important.
“We have been discussing what more we can do to ensure a reciprocally beneficial relationship between the UK and EU on COVID-19.
“Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short-, medium- and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens.
“In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges.
“We will continue our discussions.”
Despite the signal that there would be cooperation on the rollout of vaccines, there are still questions over whether export controls could be placed on some vaccine supplies. Under plans for new regulations, no outright export bans are likely to be implemented, though some exports may still be blocked to countries with higher vaccination rates than the EU or to countries that have export bans on vaccines produced in their own country.
Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that he did not believe that blockading vaccines or medicines would be ‘sensible’.
According to the latest data, over 28.6 million people have received their first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 in the UK, while over 2.5 million have also had their second vaccine dose.