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EU threatens to halt coronavirus vaccine exports

EU threatens to halt coronavirus vaccine exports

The European Union has threatened to block coronavirus vaccine exports and to seize factories in Europe making the vaccines, as the bloc struggles to vaccinate its 450 million citizens.

EU threatens to halt coronavirus vaccine exports

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said “all options are on the table”, with officials ready to invoke emergency powers not used since the 70s to ban the exports.

She said she is no longer prepared for vaccines made in the EU to be exported to Britain and other countries while Europe experiences a third wave of COVID-19.

“We are in the crisis of the century,” she said.

“I’m not ruling out anything for now because we have to make sure that Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Human lives, civil liberties and also the prosperity of our economy are dependent on the speed of vaccinations.”

It comes not long after a shipment of AstraZeneca doses bound for Australia from Italy was blocked, with Italy citing the shortage of vaccines in the EU and arguing Australia was not a “vulnerable” nation.

Von der Leyen said the EU had received more than 300 requests for overseas vaccine shipments over the past six weeks and the Australia-bound shipment was the only one it had refused.

The EC president refused to rule out invoking article 122 in EU treaty law, which would permit the EU to seize factories and suspend intellectual property rights.

Von der Leyen has accused AstraZeneca of having “under-produced and under-delivered” its vaccines for the EU.

She said the EU was “still waiting” for its AstraZeneca orders to come out of two sites in the UK, while 10 million doses from other manufacturers had entered Britain from the EU.

The UK has so far managed to deliver at least one shot to almost half the adult population, whereas less than a 10th of the EU’s population has been vaccinated.

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