Luxembourg MEP Christoph Hansen made the claim that the EU has provided millions of vaccine doses to the UK and said it was time for the country to return the favour. But Channel 4 News journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy interrupted the politician to clarify that it was private companies and contracts that delivered the vaccines from the continent and not the EU despite the claims from Brussels. Mr Hansen floundered and said the UK was treating the EU badly but could not specify how it was doing so.
Mr Guru-Murthy spoke to Mr Hansen and said: “If we just have a look at what’s happened.
“Britain struck very early deals with the manufacturers, started first and has now vaccinated about three times the proportion of adults to most of the European countries.
“The EU was late with its deals and started vaccinating later and then various leaders started spreading weird anti-vax scepticism about the very vaccine that you now want.
“Why is Britain to blame for European incompetence?”
Mr Hansen replied: “Well, in general, I will contradict you it’s not European incompetence it’s European openness.
“And you can say that openness means not going in the right direction but for us, the openness of our economy is very important.
“We have international supply chains and that’s why we believe and wanted to go ahead as well with open markets not only for the vaccines but for the components needed to produce them.
“I have to remind you as well that the European Union delivered almost 11 million doses of vaccine to the United Kingdom.
“Do you know the figure how many vaccines came back the other way round, exactly zero doses – we need reciprocity.”
But Mr Guru-Murthy pointed out to the MEP that the EU has not provided the doses to the UK and it was the pharmaceutical companies.
He said: “That’s just not correct, the EU didn’t send vaccine doses to Britain.
“Britain did a deal with Pfizer and those doses were sent according to a commercial contract and Britain would not be sending AstraZeneca vaccine to Europe – these are commercial contracts that have been struck.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering sharing British AstraZeneca vaccines created in The Netherlands with the EU to quell any vaccine export ban threat.
Government officials from The Netherlands told Politico that they would be willing to implement an export ban if an EU/UK deal was not created.
Mr Hansen continued: “These are commercial contracts that the European Union struck as well so the companies have a commitment to the other contracts and not just one.
“So that’s why I believe that we have to meet to make the balance and vaccines are correctly going both ways.
“The European Union is the champion of exporting vaccines, it is the milk cow for vaccination.
“I might say that as a milk cow needs to graze and to drink.”
He explained the vaccination agreements and programmes across Europe should be based on reciprocity and that the UK was treating the EU negatively too.
Mr Guru-Murthy then asked: “What do you think Britain has specifically done wrong and in terms of what do you think Britain has limited.
“I mean, even if you took away the 10.9 million doses that Britain has taken from Pfizer Britain would still have vaccinated twice as many adults as most European countries.
“So in your measurement, we would still be ahead and therefore not eligible to receive European exports.”
The MEP did not answer the question directly and said only one vaccine export had been banned which was from Italy to Australia.
He said the UK and EU should then work together on tackling the pandemic.