The European Union’s drugs regulator has approved the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine after the pharma giant published its contract with the EU, amid a row over whether it broke its vaccine commitments.
The EU Medicines Agency announced it had granted a conditional marketing authorisation for the covid 19 vaccine for people aged 18 and over.
It comes after it was revealed that AstraZeneca’s contract with the EU included two UK factories as part of the bloc, having released the documents this morning after Ursula von der Leyen threatened to do so herself.
She had claimed it contained “binding orders” for a set amount of Covid vaccine doses.
The contract reveals that the two sides agreed manufacturing sites “shall include the United Kingdom” – adding weight to the EU’s position. It also stipulates that other deals cannot supercede any agreement with the EU.
Follow the latest updates below.
That’s all for today
Thanks for sticking with us throughout the day, which has been as busy as ever in political news.
We will leave you with the results from today’s poll, which asked: whose argument does the AZ-EU contract support?
A whopping 84 percent of readers said AstraZeneca: ‘Best reasonable effort’ has been made.
Just 2 percent said The EU: It has a right to doses produced in those factories, while 14 percent said: Neither, the UK must publish its contract to clear things up.
Have a good weekend and we’ll see you Monday.
Germany restricts travel from Britain due to Covid variant
Germany is to impose tighter restrictions on travel from Britain due to the UK Covid-19 variant, according to draft government regulation.
The regulation, which was seen by Reuters, says: “In addition to existing test and quarantine rules … a temporary limitation shall be imposed on carriage of travellers from countries designated as regions with variants.”
Also included in the new measures are Brazil, Portugal and South Africa.
Follow The Telegraph’s travel live blog for more news on this story.
AstraZeneca UK supply line ‘extremely robust’, says NI First Minister
Mrs Foster said she had a “very useful and constructive” remote meeting with AstraZeneca.
“AstraZeneca has committed to provide 100 million doses for the UK, and it is their intention to have 30 million vaccinated by the end of the first quarter,” she said.
“I was encouraged that they have established 20 independent supply chain arms for different parts of the world and believe their UK supply line is extremely robust as it is now extensively an internal UK operation.”
Further supplies of the AstraZeneca jab are due to arrive in Northern Ireland this week and next and will go out to GPs.
The deaths of a further 22 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were announced on Friday, along with another 669 positive cases of the virus.
Concerns raised over supply of medicines to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s First Minister said a Covid vaccine producer raised concerns with her around the potential impact of the NI Protocol on the supply of medicines to the region.
There is a grace period of a year over checks on medicines moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the post-Brexit arrangements.
Arlene Foster said AstraZeneca raised the matter in a meeting with her on Friday.
She said it needs clarity before the end of the year “so there is not a cliff edge” in terms of supply.
“We need to listen very carefully to their concerns about the end of the year and make sure we take those to Michael Gove and others in the UK Government,” she said.
“There is currently a derogation, but Government must be awake to this challenge and explain how they are going to get medicines to Northern Ireland from January 2022.
“I assured AstraZeneca that we were already raising these matters with the Government and I would be meeting Michael Gove in the coming days where we would again be raising this issue as well as others.”
The EU’s drugs regulator has approved the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine
The approval was made following the publication of the AstraZeneca contract:
30 m Janssen vaccine likely available later in the year
The Prime Minister has tweeted that the early trials are “very encouraging”:
Very encouraging that early trials of the vaccine developed by Janssen show it to be effective against coronavirus.
We have secured 30 million doses, and if approved by our medicines regulator we should expect these to be available later this year.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 29, 2021
UK orders 30m doses of the Janssen vaccine
A single-dose vaccine, made by the US company Johnson & Johnson, is 100 per cent at preventing deaths and hospitalisations from Covid-19.
In the 44,000-person trial by the company’s subsidiary Janssen, based in the Netherlands, they also found the vaccine prevented 66 per cent of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19.
The UK has ordered 30m doses of the Janssen vaccine.
The jab worked across multiple variants of coronavirus, including the South African variant which has been worrying scientists, the firm said.
Follow the coronavirus live blog for more on this story
UK wants ‘vaccine war’, says commissioner
Didier Renders, Belgium’s EU commissioner, said:
“Our goal now is for all European countries to receive, at the same time, vaccines in proportion to their population. Transparency is needed, not a vaccine war.
“Britain may want to start a vaccine war, but we have programmed vaccines for European countries and our partners.”
Mark Drakeford urges walls be built ‘higher’ as he calls on Government to do more
Mr Drakeford also said he believes closing the UK borders completely would offer “greater” protection against Covid-19 than restrictions announced by the UK Government this week.
He said: “I can envisage that myself.
“I think those protections would be greater than the ones the UK Government has decided on this week.
“I did say in a meeting with the UK governments that this smacked to me again of the UK Government doing the least they thought they could get away with, rather than the most that needed to be done.
“Building the walls higher, keeping the defences stronger – I certainly think there is a case for keeping that argument alive with the UK Government.”
Leaders still divided over PM’s controversial trip to Scotland
First Minister Mark Drakeford has said it is “preferable” for people who make Covid-19 rules to observe them.
Speaking at a press conference in Cardiff, he said: “I myself have left Cardiff I think twice since November.
“I went once to the Rhondda, where a coal tip had slipped, and I went once last weekend to Skewen where major flooding had taken place.
“So I am only leaving my home or place or work in a genuine emergency and that’s because the rules in Wales are stay at home, work from home. We are at Level 4 of a public health emergency.
“On the whole, I think it is preferable for people who make rules that we expect other people to observe to observe them ourselves.”
Senior Tory says it ‘would have been odd’ for David Frost to become NSA
Responding to the news that Lord Frost will not become the National Security Adviser, Sir Bernard Jenkin said:
“David Frost is a special adviser and it would have been been odd to give NSA role to special adviser, rather than impartial civil servant.”
Lobby latest: No clarity on post-lockdown plan for tiers
Downing Street has again refused to say whether England would return to a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown is eased.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “By mid-February we will expect to have a clearer idea on the effect that the vaccine programme is having on hospital admissions, on deaths as well as the transmission rate of the virus across the country.
“It remains the case that we will review that data in the week of the 15th of February, and we will then, during the week of the 22nd of February, set out our plan for the gradual easing of restrictions based on the evidence reviewed.”
Lobby latest: Downing Street rejects claims Frost was dropped from NSA role
Downing Street said the Prime Minister reversed his decision to make Lord Frost National Security Adviser (NSA) in order to “maximise the opportunities” for the UK after Brexit.
Lord Frost has instead been appointed representative for Brexit and International Policy and head of a new International Policy Unit in Number 10.
Asked whether Boris Johnson thought Sir Stephen Lovegrove, who will take up the NSA role, would be a better fit for the role, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “No, that’s not what we’ve said. I don’t accept that.”
No 10 confirmed that Lord Frost will report to the Prime Minister in his new role, with the peer continuing in his “leave of absence” from the House of Lords.
Lobby latest: Prime Minister still confident in vaccine supply, despite AstraZeneca row
Downing Street remained confident in its vaccine supply in the face of a possible export ban being imposed by the European Union.
Asked by reporters about the prospect of EU action, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.
“EU policy is a matter for them but I would point back to what I’ve said and what the Prime Minister has said about the confidence we have in our supply chains and the fact we remain committed to vaccinating the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, the rest of phase one by the spring and offer a dose to all adults by September.”
Pressed on whether the UK’s stance on sending doses to the EU had altered, Boris Johnson’s spokesman replied: “I think the public would expect us to continue to vaccinate as many people as possible, and that’s what we will do.”
The Number 10 spokesman said he would not comment on the level of vaccine supply the UK possesses but added: “The deals we have in place with the seven vaccine developers will ensure our supply continues to grow as we rapidly expand the rollout of the plan in the weeks and months ahead.”
Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine threat ‘to distract from public scrutiny’, claims senior Tory
A senior Tory has condemned the Scottish Government for threatening to publish details of its vaccine supply, despite the UK Government warning it not to.
Nicola Sturgeon promised to publish the data – which reveals how many vaccine doses her nation expects each week – to counter claims that she is failing to rollout the vaccine in Scotland at speed.
Her Health Secretary Jeane Freeman doubled-down on that pledge today (see 12:56pm).
But Sir Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the liaison committee, told the Telegraph: “Nicola Sturgeon will stop at nothing in order to distract from public scrutiny of her own record, whether it is her failure in domestic policy or her failure with her own vaccination programme.”
On the row with the EU over the AstraZeneca vaccine, Sir Bernard added: “The UK Government is right to try and de-escalate this dispute and should do nothing to inflame the situation – but it should ensure that our vaccine programme continues uninterrupted.”
In particular, he said work should be undertaken to guarantee supplies of the second doses of the Pfizer jab for those who have had the first.
Scotland will give public ‘clarity’ on vaccines supply, says minister
It’s “not credible” for the UK Government to provide details of vaccines to the media, but not expect the Scottish Government to release data, Scotland’s Health Secretary said.
Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Jeane Freeman said: “The bottom line here is that the UK Government has repeatedly briefed key statistics on how much vaccine has been allocated and delivered to Scotland.
“So it’s not credible for them one day to tell journalists… what these figures are and another day tell us that putting out these figures is a matter of national security. That circle really doesn’t square.
“We’ve held off publication in the past at their request but that’s no longer tenable. So the public have a right to clarity and we will give them that.
“We’re not talking about future supplies, we’re talking about known supplies – and I think that’s exactly the right thing for us to do.”
UK is ‘hijacking’ Covid vaccine, suggests Croatian Prime Minister
EU figures are continuing their assault on AstraZeneca and the UK, as the row over vaccine doses escalates.
“What we are witnessing is vaccine hijacking,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters on Friday.
“Some countries didn’t have a united approach like we in the EU and have obviously offered more money for vaccine doses.'”
Little change in England’s case rates as one in 55 test positive
An estimated one in 55 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between January 17 and 23, the Office for National Statistics said – the equivalent of 1.02 million people, or 1.9% of the population.
This is broadly unchanged on the previous estimates for the period January 10 to 16.
London continues to have the highest proportion of people likely to test positive, with around one in 35 people in private households estimated to have had Covid-19 between January 17 and 23.
For north-west England the latest estimate is one in 45 people, and for north-east England the estimate is one in 50.
The other estimates are one in 55 people in the West Midlands, one in 60 in eastern England and south-east England, one in 70 in the East Midlands and south-west England, and one in 85 for Yorkshire and the Humber.
‘No question’ that UK factories should supply EU, says Commission
Brussels has insisted that UK manufacturing plants should be used to help supply doses of the AstraZeneca jab to the European Union.
Eric Mamer, chief spokesmen for the European Commission, said: “We have always said that indeed there are a number of plants which are mentioned in the contract that we have with AstraZeneca, some of which are located in the UK, and it is foreseen that these plants will contribute to the effort of AstraZeneca to deliver doses to the European Union.
“There is absolutely no question for us that this is what the contract specifies.”
And there’s more: ‘UK deal AstraZeneca cannot supercede deal with EU’
Brussels correspondent James Crisp has been hearing from EU officials that they believe the contract supports their argument on more than just the location of production.
They have pointed him to a clause they believe means any deal with the UK cannot supercede one with the the EU.
EU sources pointing to clause 13.1 (e) as evidence that UK agreement with AstraZeneca cannot supercede deal with EU.
in it AZ tells EU it is not under any agreement that would impede fulfilment of its obligations under Agreement. pic.twitter.com/Kj9rZULsLH
— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) January 29, 2021
It’s worth noting that this morning the Spectator reported that UK ministers insisted on a “legally binding promise to serve Britain first”.
Have your say: Which side is right in the vaccine row?
AstraZeneca has this morning published a redacted version of its contract with the EU, as the two sides continue to row over the supply shortfall.
However the document arguably supports both sides’ arguments. On the one hand, two UK factories were designated under the EU banner – despite going it alone on the procurement process – supporting the bloc’s claim that supplies should be diverted.
On the other, the drugs giant does pledge its “best reasonable efforts” to supply the vaccines, supporting claims made by Pascal Seriot earlier this week.
You can read the contract yourself in the post below – then why not have your say.
Read it in full: The AstraZeneca-EU contract
AstraZeneca has this morning published a redacted version of its contract with the EU, as the two sides continue to row over the supply shortfall.
The contract makes clear that two UK factories were designated under the EU banner – despite going it alone on the procurement process.
However it also supports the drug firm’s argument that it had promised to make “best reasonable effort” to supply the vaccines.
Have a read of the contract here.
Publishing vaccine data ‘risks supply’, claims minister – but can’t explain why
Prisons minister Lucy Frazer has insisted the Government will not publish vaccine supply information for “security reasons” – but failed to explain what that means.
Nicola Sturgeon has suggested she could start publishing details of Covid vaccine supplies arriving in the country, despite a previous outcry from the UK Government when numbers were made public.
During an interview with LBC this morning the junior minister said doing so “risks security”, but dodged questions asking her to elaborate on why that was.
Brussels welcomes AstraZeneca’s ‘transparency’ on vaccines contract
Brussels has welcomed AstraZeneca’s “transparency” as the drugs giant published its vaccine contract.
Eric Mamer, chief spokesmen of the European Commission, told a Brussels briefing: “AstraZeneca has agreed to publish the redacted contract signed between the two parties on August 27 2020.”
He added: “We welcome the company’s commitment towards more transparency in its participation to the rollout of the EU vaccine strategy.
“Transparency, and accountability, are important to help build trust of European citizens and to make sure they can rely on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines purchased at EU level.”
U-turn on David Frost’s National Security role is ‘civil service taking back control’
Boris Johnson’s U-turn on plans to make his chief Brexit negotiator the National Security Adviser (NSA) comes after widespread criticism across Whitehall and Westminster.
Lord (David) Frost will instead be appointed as Representative for Brexit and International Policy and head of a new International Policy Unit in No 10, the Prime Minister said today.
The initial proposal had sparked concern, with critics including former prime minister Theresa May, because unlike previous holders of the post, he is a political adviser rather than a career civil servant, and lacks security experience.
This morning one former adviser said: “It’s the civil service taking back control.”
Less than half of black British adults likely to get vaccine, ONS finds
Ethnic minorities, younger adults and women are less likely to say they will get a coronavirus vaccine, according to ONS figures.
But less than half (49 per cent) of 150 black or black British adults said they would be likely to get the vaccine, compared to 85 per cent of 13, 240 white adults. More than a quarter (28 per cent) said they would be unlikely to do so, as did seven per cent of white adults.
Some 13 per cent of people with mixed ethnicity and eight per cent of 460 Asian or Asian British adults said they would be unlikely to get a jab.
This week a cross-arty group of MPs launched a campaign to boost take-up of the vaccine among BAME groups.
Fraser Nelson: When will Unionists realise that Sturgeon is far from invincible?
The appeal of Scottish independence is immediate and obvious: a belief that this small, ingenious country whose Enlightenment shaped the modern world can do things better on its own.
This argument has gathered strength during the pandemic, where each of Boris Johnson’s missteps has strengthened the SNP’s hand. He over-promised and disappointed people; Nicola Sturgeon under-promised and impressed. The result seems to be a consistent majority in favour of independence – and a feeling in Westminster that the end of the Union is now inevitable.
It’s not that Nicola Sturgeon has dealt with Covid any better than Boris Johnson. She’s struggling with the pace of vaccinations, but her woes run far deeper. She is still embroiled in a fairly horrific row about what she did and didn’t know about the harassment allegations against Alex Salmond and she’s facing a split in her party over the gender wars. It adds up to trouble that would finish the career of any Westminster politician. Yet she doesn’t just survive, but flourishes.
Fraser Nelson explores the reasons why – and why he believes the Union is not lost.
David Frost handed new Brexit role
Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator during the Brexit talks has been handed a new role – but the plans to make him the National Security Adviser have been scrapped.
Lord (David) Frost is to become the Representative for Brexit and International Policy and head of a new International Policy Unit in No 10
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent sectretary at the Ministry of Defence, will take on the NSA role.
Mr Johnson said in a statement: “I am hugely grateful to Lord Frost for his herculean efforts in securing a deal with the EU, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to be my representative for Brexit and International Policy as we seize the opportunities from our departure from the EU.
“I am also delighted to appoint Sir Stephen Lovegrove as my National Security Adviser. Stephen brings with him a wealth of experience from across Whitehall and in National Security and I look forward to working closely together to deliver this Government’s vision for the UK in the world.”
EU in talks to acquire Novavax vaccine after breakthrough
The European Commission is in negotiations with Novavax about the amount of Covid-19 vaccines it is going to order, after a jab trialled in the UK was shown to be highly effective against the Kent variant Germany’s health minister said.
“We will also be ordering additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna,” Jens Spahn told a news conference.
The Novavax vaccine, which Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi was himself injected with as part of the trial, was shown to be 89.3 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus in participants.
Britain has already secured 60 million doses of the new vaccine, which will be produced at Stockton on Tees. If approved, it will give Britain access to 217 million vaccine doses in total.
Labour to force vote on ‘limited’ quarantine hotels plan
Labour will force a vote on the Government’s quarantine hotel plans, as it looks to extend restrictions beyond the “limited” list of 30 hotspot countries.
The opposition will accuse the Government’s plans of being “too little, too late” and say that “limiting restrictions to just a handful of countries puts at risk the gains being made by the vaccine, by exposing us to potentially resistant Covid-19 strains, undermining the huge sacrifices of the British people.”
During the next opposition day debate on Monday, Labour will introduce a motion calling for “a comprehensive hotel quarantine system for all arrivals into the UK”, as well as calling for the Government to publish the scientific evidence on which it has based its current approach.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, shadow home secretary, said: “Labour is calling on the Government to introduce a comprehensive hotel quarantine system for all travellers, in order to shut down the gaping holes in the Government’s plans. The plans have no clear basis in science and fail to recognise that we do not know where the next strains of the virus will emerge from, until it is too late.”
Rishi Sunak launches ‘Number 11’ newsletter
Rishi Sunak is launching a new “Number 11” newsletter, offering “the latest news, stats and info every Friday evening”.
The Chancellor’s ‘Brand Rishi’ marketing continues – but pressure is building ahead of the Budget on March 3.
Labour MPs call for more data on slow vaccine progress in London
A group of London MPs have written to Matt Hancock calling for access to more data, amid concerns the capital is falling behind in vaccinations.
The letter, which has been signed by 24 Labour MPs, asks the Health Secretary why London has “got off to a slow start”, as Nadhim Zahawi said last week, and for clarity around vaccine supply “in all parts of the country”, as well as further information about new variants.
They are also seeking data around “gaps in delivery or take-up”, amid concerns that ethnicity, access to transport or deprivation may be affecting the numbers.
Ldn has had a slower delivery of the vaccine than other parts of the country, but we don’t know exactly why. We have been asking for weeks for info on vaccinations and about strategies to reach the most vulnerable. I have now joined with other London MPs formally requesting info. pic.twitter.com/Ifqh2y0kyG
— Lyn Brown ? (@lynbrownmp) January 29, 2021
EU will not block vaccine exports to UK, claims former vaccine taskforce head
Former vaccines taskforce boss Kate Bingham has said she does not believe the European Union will block vaccine exports because the two sides are too closely linked.
The EU has said it will use all legal means or even block exports unless they agreed to deliver shots as promised, which could threaten supplies heading to the UK.
But Kate Bingham, whose team secured millions of supplies for the UK, told the BBC: “I just don’t believe it’ll ever come to that. We’ve worked very cooperatively with the European Union.”
UK will help EU on vaccines ‘where we can’, says minister
AstraZeneca’s dispute with the European Union is a “commercial matter” but the UK will help neighbouring countries “where we can”, a junior minister has said.
Asked about the ongoing row about supplies, Lucy Frazer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That is a commercial matter between AstraZeneca and the EU.
“But we are confident that the supplies that we have put in place with AstraZeneca, which will help us to reach our target of vaccinating everybody by the autumn, we are confident that we will get the supplies for that.”
Pressed on European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen reportedly stating that in AstraZeneca’s contract with the bloc it said two out of its four vaccine factories are in the UK, the prisons minister added: “We have done a great deal of work in the UK to help support the supply chain and the manufacturing base to ensure that we have sufficient supplies within this country.
“But, as I said, our priority is to ensure we vaccinate people in the UK, but of course, where we can help our friends and neighbours, we would do that.”
Novovax jab will improve ‘resilience’ against new variants, says Chris Whitty
The Novavax jab would increase the UK’s “future resilience, including against the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant,” if it gets regulatory approval, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Following the news of the breakthrough last night, Prof Chris Whitty tweeted that this was “a highly effective vaccine to add to the medical countermeasures against Covid-19”.
A highly effective vaccine to add to the medical countermeasures against COVID-19 trialed in the UK. If it gets MHRA approval this increases our future resilience, including against the B.1.1.7 variant. Many thanks to all trial volunteers and those who conducted the research. https://t.co/JIqtu9UglA
— Professor Chris Whitty (@CMO_England) January 29, 2021
Minister unable to explain what ‘security reasons’ are for vaccine secrecy
The UK Government will not be publishing vaccine supply information for “security reasons”, a minister has said – although was not able to explain what that means.
Lucy Frazer, the prisons minister, told BBC Breakfast: “The Government isn’t hiding anything at all. My understanding is that is for security reasons.
“But I think we’ve been incredibly transparent throughout since March, since the beginning of this pandemic, about how the Government is dealing with every aspect of the coronavirus.
“I think we have been extremely transparent, where it is appropriate to do so, to inform the public about how we are managing the pandemic.”
Pressed on what she meant by “security reason”, the junior minister replied: “That is the information that I have received.”
China will ‘no longer recognise’ BNO passports in Hong Kong
China has said it will “no longer recognise” the British National (Overseas) passport for Hong Kongers, as the UK prepares to open its doors to millions more residents of the former colony.
Yesterday the UK Government reaffirmed its commitment to all BNO passport holders and eligible family members, to live, study and work in the UK and apply for settlement and citizenship longer-term.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said it was in response to Beijing’s move to impose a new National Security Law in Hong Kong, which “constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration contrary to international law”.
The new visa will be open for applications from 31 January.
Responding, Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters: “From January 31, China will no longer recognise the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions.”
Government won’t publish vaccination data, despite Sturgeon’s threats, minister says
The UK Government will not publish vaccination data, despite Nicola Sturgeon threatening to reveal how many vaccine doses her nation expects each week, as she seeks to counter claims that she is failing to rollout the vaccine in Scotland at speed.
Lucy Frazer, the prisons minister, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have as a Government been extremely transparent about everything that it has been possible to be transparent about in this process.
“We have published how many people we are testing, capacity for testing, hospitalisations, our deaths, out plan inrelation to vaccines and how many people we are vaccinating and when.
“But to ensure we maintain necessary security and sensitivity we are not publishing anything further in relation to matters Nicola Sturgeon suggest we publish. Our priority is to ensure we get vaccinations in, and vaccinate the country.”
Wales could start reopening schools from mid-February, says First Minister
Wales could reopen schools to the youngest pupils after February half-term if rates of coronavirus continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
When asked why this was earlier than in England and Northern Ireland, Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: “Because the context is different. Today we have 175 people in Wales for every 100,000 contracting coronavirus.
“In England a couple of days ago the average was 350, and our 170 figure is falling every day, so you can see the context is very different.
“We want to take advantage of that. Our children and young people have had a torrid time over the last 12 months, they are missing out on education every week.”
The Welsh Government was working with local education authorities, teaching unions and the Children’s Commissioner to return young people to face-to-face learning “as soon as it is safe to do so”.
“Provided the next three weeks see further falls, we think we can do that straight after half-term. That’s what we’ll be working on together,” Mr Drakeford said.
Former taskforce head urges governments ‘not to consider’ vaccine nationalism
Threatening to withhold Covid vaccines from other countries is “not something we should be considering”, the former head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce has said.
Kate Bingham said the UK’s head-start was down to early production preparation, as much as it was down to signing a contract early on.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not going to get into the details of the contacts but one of the things the CEO of AZ (AstraZeneca) did not mention is that we actually started scaling up manufacture of the Oxford vaccine from February.
“So, yes, we signed the contract, or agreed terms with AZ, in May, but actually the work to scale up the manufacturing started months before that, and it is that early work that was done by the industry – voluntarily, not based on contracts or requirements but a voluntary coalition of the different companies.
“That is what has ultimately made the difference as to why we are so far ahead on manufacturing.”
Asked about AstraZeneca’s dispute with the European Union, Ms Bingham said: “We are interdependent and I don’t think that the idea that there are going to be trade barriers is something that we should be considering.”
European regulator to announce AstraZeneca decision at 2pm today
European regulators are expected to announce if they have approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine today – but Germany’s vaccine authorities yesterday called for its rollout to be limited to those aged between 18 and 64.
The European Union’s Amsterdam-based medical regulator is due to hold a press conference at 2pm UK time.
“Provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete,” the experts committee could recommend authorisation on Friday, the European Medicines Agency said.
The approval would cover the 27 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are part of the European Economic Area. The EMA has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Public Health England has defended the Oxford vaccine as safe and effective for older people, rejecting Germany’s claim that there is insufficient data about its impact on over-65s.
Welsh Government asked not to publish vaccine supply data by UK Govt, says Mark Drakeford
The Welsh Government was asked not to publish data of the supplies of Covid-19 vaccines by the UK Government, Mark Drakeford has revealed.
Nicola Sturgeon has threatened to publish the data – which reveals how many vaccine doses her nation expects each week – to counter claims that she is failing to rollout the vaccine in Scotland at speed.
The Welsh First Minister told Sky News: “We were about to publish figures here in Wales – we publish more data than would be the case across our border in England.
“We were asked not to by the UK Government. There’s a lot of sensitivity at the moment, as you know, across the whole of Europe about supplies of vaccine.
“While the UK Government tells us that it would not be sensible, we will take that advice seriously. We’re not going to publish it at the moment. As soon as it’s safe to do so and right to do so, we will put that information into the public domain.”
Resolve vaccine row to ensure rest of world can ‘catch up with UK’, says Mark Drakeford
The vaccine row should be resolved in a way that allows the rest of the world to “catch up with where we are in the United Kingdom”, Wales’ First Minister has said.
Asked about the prospect of the UK sharing some of its vaccine supplies with the European Union, Mark Drakeford said negotiation was required.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “The disputes across the European Union, they need to be resolved by careful talking and proper negotiation and in that way we can make sure we get the supplies we need and others will be able to catch up with where we are in the United Kingdom today.”
Nicola Sturgeon ‘using EU as lever against the union’, claims senior Tory
Nicola Sturgeon is using “the EU as a lever against the Union”, a senior Tory has claimed.
The First Minister has threatened to publish confidential vaccine data despite warnings that the information could jeopardise the UK’s supply, to counter claims that she is failing to rollout the vaccine in Scotland at speed.
This morning Sir John Redwood sad: “The EU attacks the Union of the U.K. by trying to disrupt trade between GB and Northern Ireland, whilst Nicola Sturgeon tries to use the EU as a lever against the Union. The PM needs to stand up to these challenges and to legislate a U.K. solution to trade and fish.”
He added: “The EU’s bad conduct over vaccines is disruptive to the world effort against the pandemic. Astra Zeneca is part of the answer to the virus, not the problem.”
The EU attacks the Union of the U.K. by trying to disrupt trade between GB and Northern Ireland, whilst Nicola Sturgeon tries to use the EU as a lever against the Union. The PM needs to stand up to these challenges and to legislate a U.K. solution to trade and fish.
— John Redwood (@johnredwood) January 29, 2021
Sturgeon accused of siding with EU over vaccinations
Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of siding with the EU in its battle with the UK over vaccine doses, with the Scottish First Minister pledging to publish confidential vaccine data despite warnings that the information could jeopardise the UK’s supply.
Ms Sturgeon promised to publish the data – which reveals how many vaccine doses her nation expects each week – to counter claims that she is failing to roll out the vaccine in Scotland at speed.
It led to allegations that Ms Sturgeon was “showboating” and “attempting to curry favour” with the EU. Boris Johnson urged her to reconsider, warning that UK must “continue to have national security of supply”.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, argued it would be “deeply irresponsible” for Ms Sturgeon to put her politics ahead of the people of Scotland and them getting vaccinations.
The timing of her announcement came as the EU and UK were locked in battle over access to the vaccine.