EU’s vaccine chief revives export ban threat, only to be humiliated by Boris’s GSK deal for 60 million Novavax doses

The EU’s man charged with sorting out its disastrous vaccine programme has renewed the bloc’s threat of a ban on exports headed for the UK. However, the threat has been undermined by the Boris Johnson’s announcement this afternoon’s of 50 to 60 million more jabs being manufactured in the United Kingdom. The huge extra output should ensure Britain’s phenomenal vaccine roll-out reaches its April targets, with or without draconian action by the EU.

The head of the EU’s executive vaccine task force, Thierry Breton has struck a hard line since being handed the critical responsibility of upping supplies on the back of the January bombshell when Anglo-Swedish pharma company, AstraZeneca told Eurocrats supplies would fall short, sending EU decision-makers into a frenzy.


Yesterday, Breton said a ban on vaccine exports was still a weapon at the EU’s disposal, saying “everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans”. The EU commissioner for the internal market also targeted AstraZeneca and said he believes Brussels has the upper hand because the UK is vulnerable to supply shocks.

Last week saw Brussels’ threats of a Covid jab embargo directed at the UK simmer down. At a crunch summit of EU leaders on Thursday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was embarrassingly told to back down. France’s Emmanuel Macron was also humiliated, having championed the ban, which completely contradicts the EU’s commitment to free trade.

However, notes from the European Council summit show leaders “underlined” the “importance… of the use of export authorisations” – EU language for export restrictions. The export ban is in fact already active through frightening Commission powers to implement legislation without democratic authorisation from EU leaders and MEPs. British and EU negotiators are locked in talks this week with UK officials trying to avoid being hit with an export ban.

The headline commitment from the council meeting was to accelerate “production, delivery and deployment of vaccines”, which Frenchman Breton is in charge of.

“As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans,” Breton, told LCI. “If there are surpluses, they will go elsewhere.” 

Mirroring the aggressive stance against Britain taken up by his country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, Breton added: “The British are incapable of carrying out the vaccine policy alone.

“Britain had to produce today only 10 million vaccines. We have delivered 20 million doses to help the British. They are totally dependent on us”.

This site reported this morning Macron’s delusional claim France is only “a few weeks” behind the UK’s world-beating vaccine programme, even though 30 million Brits have now received their first dose of life-saving medicine, that’s 57% of the adult population. Only 12% of French adults have been inoculated against Covid.


The French are clearly hoping niggles with massive suppliers AstraZeneca is dependent on in India are going to choke up the system in Britain.

However, Breton and Macron’s timing is bad. This afternoon, Boris Johnson laid out details of a deal with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to supply 50 to 60 million doses of the extremely effective Novavax jab, which will be produced in the north east of England.

Addressing concerns about the Pfizer jab, which if Breton gets his way will cease to be supplied to the UK as it is bottled in Belgium, Johnson said: “There isn’t any need to worry about a shortage of Pfizer for the second dose as far as we can see at the moment. We’re going to continue to roll that out and supply that…

“I’m delighted by GSK’s investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout.

“The vaccines taskforce has worked hand in glove with business to successfully deliver vaccines to the whole of the UK and this agreement will continue to support our approach.

“We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over-50s by April 15, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you’re called.”

The PM went on to assure roll-out targets next month would be met, saying: “I’m delighted by GSK’s investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout.

“The vaccines taskforce has worked hand in glove with business to successfully deliver vaccines to the whole of the UK and this agreement will continue to support our approach.

“We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over-50s by April 15, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you’re called.”