Boris Johnson set to reject invitation to join EU’s fast-track coronavirus vaccine scheme

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/House of Commons.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

Despite repeated calls from the EU to join the bloc's coronavirus vaccine scheme, Boris Johnson is set to reject the invite on the UK's behalf.

Johnson's refusal to join the scheme to work with the 27 EU countries, which is investing in at least six different potential vaccines, has been met with criticism that Brexit is being put ahead of the nation's health.

The EU has proposed using a 'large majority' of a €2.7bn emergency fund for the effort but is also committed to ensuring fair access worldwide to pandemic remedies.

The bloc is looking to buy six potential vaccines in deals in advance where the makers would commit to providing doses when and if they become available, as long as they are not produced solely in America.

The UK government was reportedly assessing whether or not to join the scheme, having originally ruled out due to its desire to sever ties with Brussels.

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But Johnson's administration has ruled by joining the Brussels scheme it would lead to a delay in people receiving the vaccine in the quantities it needs, the Independent reports.

They believe that a cap on doses allocated to each member state could reduce the scheme's effectiveness, and believes companies in the UK can offer it at a similar price.

It comes after Dominic Raab claimed the reason it had not joined other EU schemes during the coronavirus was because of an e-mail mix-up where correspondence was sent to an old address.

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Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat leadership contender, criticised the move.

She said: 'The government walking away from this EU deal shows their willingness to put ideology over public health.

'Working together would help drive down costs and make sure we get value for money.

'You would think, during a pandemic, the government would put its Brexit dogma aside. But, for this government, it's Brexit over vaccines.'

Munira Wilson MP, the Lib Dem health spokesperson, added: 'When coronavirus is such a threat to people's lives and livelihoods, Ministers should leave no stone unturned in their bid to end the pandemic.

'This Government's stubborn unwillingness to work with the European Union through the current crisis is unforgivable.

'The crisis does not stop at any national border. It is about time the prime minister started showing leadership, including fully participating in all EU efforts to secure critical medical supplies and a vaccine.'

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