People queue outside a bus modified into a mobile vaccination centre in London, Britain, in February 2021. Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS
People queue outside a bus modified into a mobile vaccination centre in London, Britain, in February 2021. Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS

London — Britain said on Thursday that there are lumps and bumps in the global vaccine supply chain causing slower deliveries than expected and scolded the EU for threatening to slap a ban on vaccine exports.

British health officials cautioned the health service on Wednesday that there would be a significant reduction in vaccine supplies from March 29 though Pfizer and AstraZeneca said their delivery schedules have not been affected.

“We always said, right from the beginning, that a new manufacturing process would have its lumps and bumps and that has been the case in the past and I’m sure it will be in the future,” UK housing secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky.

“We’re sourcing vaccines from all over the world and we are experiencing, occasionally, some issues and that’s led to this issue with some supply in the coming weeks,” he said.

Britain is on track to have given a first Covid-19 shot to half of all adults in the next few days, making it one of the fastest countries in the world to roll out a vaccine.

Asked if the issue was supply from India, Jenrick said he did not think it was right to discuss specific contracts. He said the country remains on track to have vaccinated priority groups by April 15 and all adults by the end of July.

“The main thing is, we’re still on course, we’ve still got a line of sight to deliver the vaccines and to meet our targets,” Jenrick said.

On Wednesday, the EU threatened to ban exports of Covid-19 vaccines to Britain to safeguard scarce doses for its own citizens facing a third wave of the pandemic that would jeopardise plans to restart travel this summer.

The threat from European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen was disappointing, Jenrick said.

“I was surprised and disappointed by those comments; the prime minister spoke earlier in the year to Von der Leyen and she gave a very clear commitment, which was that the EU would not engage in this sort of activity, that contractual responsibilities would be honoured.

“And that’s exactly what we intend to do and I hope and expect the EU to stick to their side of the bargain.” 

Reuters

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