Ursula von der Leyen – WHO criticises EU over vaccine export controls, says its a ‘very worrying trend’
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently criticised the European Union’s (EU) announcement of export controls on COVID-19 vaccine produced within the bloc. While speaking to BBC, WHO vice-head Mariangela Simao called the EU’s decision a “very worrying trend” and added that such measure risked prolonging the unprecedented pandemic. The EU is introducing export controls on coronavirus vaccine made in the bloc amid a row about delivery shortfalls. The European Commission has said that the “protection and safety of our citizens” is a priority for the bloc and insisted that its controls are a temporary scheme, not an export ban.
However, WHO has said that vaccines should be given to all vulnerable groups and health workers across the globe before each country starts giving the jabs out more widely. WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said that rather than rushing to vaccinate one country, the world needs to be doing the lot and they need to be doing it together. She further noted that so far 95 per cent of all vaccinations had taken place in just 10 countries, while only two low and middle name countries had even begun immunisation programmes.
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UK PM raises concerns with EU chief
The WHO’s vaccine export concern comes after UK PM Boris Johnson sounded “grave concerns” to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen over the halt. The EU enacted a vaccine export control scheme that stopped the UK’s vaccine consignment from entering the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, according to sources of BBC, the EU has now agreed to reverse its decision to temporarily override part of the Brexit after British PM Boris Johnson spoke with the EU chief in a telephonic conversation and expressed his worries about the potential impact the blocking of the vaccine shipment at the borders could have for the UK.
The European Commission later confirmed that the shipment for Northern Ireland remained unaffected. The Irish prime minister Micheál Martin hailed the reversal, saying that the move was a “positive development given the many challenges we face in tackling Covid-19”. The EU has introduced checks on vaccines made in the bloc, being exported to the UK after the Brexit amid the supply shortfall. While the post-Brexit-deal seeks no restrictions on exports to Northern Ireland, the EU feared that the shipments might be exported directly into the UK via NI as the backdoor, and hence, the bloc resort to preventing the vaccine supply from entering into Northern Ireland by invoking the Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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