Following a shortfall of AstraZeneca vaccine deliveries, key EU officials have discussed the possibility of banning dose exports in an effort to maintain supplies. But Professor James Crabtree, of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the EU could open up “Pandora’s box” if enforces restrictions.
Prof Crabtree believes European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is “really struggling” as the UK and US surge ahead with their vaccine rollouts.
He added: “There’s enormous political pressure…to begin to experiment with a kind of vaccine nationalism.
“This is, of course, very dangerous because the EU is normally one of the most responsible international actors.”
Prof Crabtree added that the EU risks starting a chain of events where countries like India do not export vaccine supplies, saying an export ban could open “Pandora’s box”.
READ MORE: UK set to send warning to EU in last-ditch bid to stop export ban
Speaking to CNBC, Prof Crabtree said other countries could respond to an export ban by prioritising vaccines for their own populations.
He told the broadcaster: “If it begins to try and restrict the flow of vaccines out of EU factories, then it opens up a Pandora’s box in which countries like India may then begin to do the same.”
Prof Crabtree believes the policy would lead to an increased risk of new Covid variants delaying vaccination rollouts.
Other scientists have flagged the need to rollout out vaccines globally in order to curb the pandemic quicker.
Valdis Dombrovskis, EU trade chief, rebuffed accusations the bloc is taking part in vaccine nationalism.
He said it was “highly unfair” to accuse the EU of hoarding jabs after data showed the bloc exported 77 million doses of the shots to 33 countries since December.
Meanwhile, 88 million doses of vaccines made in the bloc have been delivered to EU countries.
The EU has called on the UK to share vaccine doses.
Britain is said to be offering the Republic of Ireland 3.7 million coronavirus vaccines, according to the Sunday Times.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have talked privately in a bid to ensure no cross-border transmission takes place.
It would mark the first time the UK had shipped vaccines to an EU nation, with one cabinet minister describing it as “a poke in the eye to Brussels”.
Another told the paper: “It is a balancing act, making sure that we have enough vaccines to give the UK’s adult population the second dose.
“Easter will be when we might be able to start offering vaccines to Ireland.”
The UK has administered more than 33.02 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with 30,151,287 million being first doses.
Yesterday saw the UK record 3,862 cases and 19 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has recorded 4,333,042 cases and 126,592 deaths.