German minister reminds Matt Hancock Covid-19 vaccine is 'EU product' as he dismisses Brexit claims
- Credit: PA
Germany's health minister has struck down claims UK officials were able to swiftly authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine because of Brexit.
Jens Spahn said the claims had been 'misplaced' as he reminded Westminster politicians that the vaccine had been partly developed by German biotech start-up.
In a briefing on Wednesday, Spahn said although Britain had already approved a vaccine, he was optimistic that the European Medicines Agency would do so soon.
"But a few remarks on Brexit to my British friends," he said. "BioNTech is a European development, from the EU. The fact that this EU product is so good that Britain approved it so quickly shows that in this crisis European and international cooperation are best."
Shooting down claims the UK had new powers since leaving the EU to force through an approval, he said: "We have member states, including Germany, who could have issued such an emergency authorisation if we’d wanted to but we decided against this and what we opted for was a common European approach to move forward together.”
You may also want to watch:
Spahn added: "The idea is not that we’re the first, but the idea is to have safe and effective vaccines in the pandemic and that we can create confidence, and nothing is more important than confidence with respect to vaccines."
The remarks come after health secretary Matt Hancock suggested Britain was able to speedily approve the vaccine thanks to Brexit.
Speaking on talkRADIO, he said: "It is absolutely clear that because we've left the EU, I was able to change the law so that the UK alone could make this authorisation decision."
- 1 The greatest failure of government in our lifetime
- 2 The bigot we should have called out on day one
- 3 Matt Hancock praises free school meals before being reminded he voted against them
- 4 James O'Brien schools Brexiteer who refuses to accept new EU-UK trade rules
- 5 Nigel Farage launches new party in Scotland to promote 'positive case for the Union'
- 6 Brexiteer MP ridiculed after calling for free movement of goods between GB and NI
- 7 Brexiteer rebuked after backing Nigel Farage's 'East Germany' claims
- 8 Scottish fishing boats ditch UK waters for Denmark to escape Brexit red tape
- 9 The polling that signals the plight of the Union
- 10 PMQs Review: The one where the speaker finally snapped
Mental health minister Nadine Dorries, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tory MP Michael Fabricant all made similar claims.
All three have been reported to Twitter for allegedly spreading misinformation.
Spahn was not the only European official to be irritated with British politicians.
Germany's ambassador to London fired off a testy response to business minister Alok Sharma after he claimed the "UK led humanity's charge against the disease".
"I really don’t think this is a national story," Andreas Michaelis tweeted. "In spite of the German company BioNTech having made a crucial contribution, this is European and transatlantic."
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.