Dutch lab at the center of EU, UK Covid vaccine trade dispute
The European Union and United Kingdom are clashing over coronavirus vaccine deliveries and the Halix lab in Leiden is at the center of the dispute. EU officials are considering banning the exports of vaccines produced at the Halix lab, and the UK is trying to stop that ban, Reuters, BBC and ANP reported.
The EU is holding a summit later this week to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, especially in light of AstraZeneca only being able to deliver some 40 percent of the doses it promised the EU in the second quarter. According to the news agencies, this discussion will include a possible ban on the exports of AstraZeneca vaccines produced in Leiden to the United Kingdom.
According to Reuters, AstraZeneca told the EU that the UK is using a clause in its supply contract that prevents exports of its vaccines until the British market is fully served. And that may be why the EU second quarter delivery will be so much lower than promised.
The Halix factory has not yet been approved as a supplier for the European market, but it is expected that this green light will be given on March 25, according to Reuters. The European Commission wants to make sure that vaccines produced here stays in the EU, an official said to the news agency.
British Prime Minster Boris Johnson is scrambling to prevent that export ban and has already spoken to a number of EU leaders, including his counterparts Mark Rutte in the Netherlands and Alexander De Croo in Belgium, according to the BBC.
An EU official told Reuters that the Union is not trying to pick a fight with the UK. "The UK is not to blame. The EU is not to blame," the official said. "It's about everyone finding agreement with a company that has been over-selling its production capacity. AstraZeneca has to deliver doses to its EU customers."
So far, the EU blocked one shipment of vaccines to Australia.