‘Brexit BONUS’ as EU ‘dithered and delayed’ on coronavirus vaccine – journalist

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine discussed by disease expert

The Telegraph’s associate editor Camilla Tominey appeared on the BBC Question Time, hosted by Fiona Bruce, alongside Tory MP Gillian Keegan and Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden. She pointed to Brexit as a reason for the UK’s success in rolling out vaccines. The panel was asked by the audience “as the EU is having difficulties, how far will the Government go to protect the UK vaccine plan?”

When asked by Ms Bruce why there has been delays in the EU vaccine rollout, Ms Tominey suggested there could be some “resentment” from the bloc to the UK.

She said: “I think there’s a sense that because Germany has the BioNTech company, who are collaborating with Pfizer, they sort of want to distance themselves from AstraZeneca.

“I also think there’s some resentment perhaps towards the fact that Britain has helped towards the research and development of the vaccine.”

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Ms Tominey suggested leaving the EU has allowed the UK to ramp up its vaccine programme to administer the jab to “more people, more quickly”.

She said: “We have a situation where the British were a good customer to AstraZeneca because they ordered early, they were specific about how many they wanted.

“There’s a clause in the contract which states that the UK factories, which to be fair to Britain they set up really quickly, should be the first to prioritise British vaccines.

“And equally, by comparison, even though there were member states clamouring for information on where they were getting vaccines from, the EU dithered and delayed, so frankly, being removed from that situation due to Brexit has had a bonus for Britain, in this particular instance.

“I don’t think we can deny that with the evidence we are faced with now. We are vaccinating far more people, more quickly, than other EU member states.

“And I think there are people in the EU who have been questioning the protectionist approach of Brussels in this.“

It comes as the EU has been criticised for its slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines, in part due to issues with AstraZeneca.

The drugs company has reported manufacturing issues in its Belgium and Netherlands plants, and announced they would cut first quarter vaccine deliveries to the EU by 60 percent.

In an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Soriot said “we are basically two months behind where we want to be” in supplies due to manufacturing issues in Europe.

AstraZeneca said in a statement it is “committed to even closer coordination to jointly chart a path for the delivery of our vaccine over the coming months as we continue our efforts to bring this vaccine to millions of Europeans at no profit during the pandemic.”

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So far, the UK has administered 7,447,199 first doses and 476,298 second doses of coronavirus jabs.

Yesterday saw the UK record another 28,680 cases and 1,239 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

In total, 3,743,734 cases and 103,126 deaths have been recorded in the UK.

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