European Council President Charles Michel rejected charges of “vaccine nationalism” brought against the EU today, arguing that while the UK and the United States had “outright bans” on exports of Covid-19 shots, the EU had not stopped exporting.
The EU has faced criticism for a slower rollout than UK and for doing less than China, Russia or India to supply vaccines to poor countries.
The UK refuted Michel’s claim saying it has not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine and remained committed to cooperation internationally.
“Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false”, a UK government spokesman said.
“This pandemic is a global challenge and international collaboration on vaccine development continues to be an integral part of our response.”
In response to criticism, Michel laid out a defence of the bloc’s strategy.
“Europe will not use vaccines for propaganda purposes. We promote our values,” he added.
Michel also defended a system to control the export of doses produced in EU countries, invoked by Italy last week to block a shipment of AstraZeneca shots to Australia.
“Our objective: to prevent companies from which we have ordered and pre-financed doses from exporting them to other advanced countries when they have not delivered to us what was promised.”