Emmanuel Macron accuses UK and US of hoarding Covid vaccines

·2-min read
The French president arriving at the EU summit in Porto.  - Getty Images Europe 
The French president arriving at the EU summit in Porto. - Getty Images Europe

Emmanuel Macron accused Britain and the United States of blocking coronavirus vaccine exports on Friday.

The French president said he would be willing to consider a call earlier this week by Joe Biden to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents but he said it was far more important in the global fight against the pandemic for the USA to end export restrictions on the jabs.

A day after the Royal Navy and French gunboats faced off in the waters round Jersey in a row over Brexit fishing licences, Mr Macron also took aim at Britain for not exporting a single coronavirus jab.

"Today, the Anglo-Saxons block many of these ingredients and vaccines," the ardently pro-EU leader told reporters as he arrived at a summit in Porto.

"Today 100 percent of the vaccines produced in the United States are for the American market." He claimed Europe was fighting for coronavirus vaccines to be a global public good.

Mr Macron was echoing long-standing European Commission criticism of both the UK and the US. The EU styles itself as the world’s leading manufacturing hub and exporter of vaccines.

That seizing of the moral high ground was, until very recently, undermined by the EU’s very slow vaccination roll out, which has only just begun to pick up real speed.

The EU demanded supplies of UK-manufactured AstraZeneca jabs after the company missed delivery targets, which ultimately led Brussels to threaten a vaccine export ban on the UK.

At the height of the row in March, Brussels released figures showing that EU factories had exported 20m Pfizer jabs and 1m AstraZeneca vaccines to the UK but received none in return.

The Porto summit is ostensibly about social issues but preliminary talks over how to respond to the US President’s radical call to waive the patents are expected.

Angela Merkel’s Germany has made its opposition to the idea plain and has argued it would cause severe complications in the production of vaccines but EU countries are divided over the idea.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has not explicitly ruled out the idea but EU officials want more details over how the plan would work and a common agreed position among member states before taking further action.