German politicians reject Tory minister's claim Britain 'led humanity's charge' against coronavirus

Business Secretary Alok Sharma during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (CO

Business Secretary Alok Sharma during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). - Credit: PA

A German ambassador has hit out at business secretary Alok Sharma after he claimed that Britain was leading "humanity's charge against" the coronavirus by fast-tracking the vaccine.

“In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease,” Sharma claimed on Twitter, after celebrating the deployment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

But Germany's ambassador to the UK was quick to hit back pointing out it was a "European and transatlantic" effort.

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Andreas Michaelis replied: “Why is it so difficult to recognise this important step forward as a great international effort and success. I really don’t think this is a national story. In spite of the German company BioNTech having made a crucial contribution, this is European and transatlantic.”

The country's health minister, Jens Spahn, meanwhile said that Berlin had considered fast-tracking the vaccine but said that they wanted to ensure there was "confidence" in the immunisation process. 

“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,” he explained.

He added the European Union were keen for a collaborative effort with co-operation from every country.

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 “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.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock has ignored experts to repeat claims that Britain was able to fast-track the vaccine due to Brexit, despite disagreement from Britain's medicines regulator.

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