The EU is having this weird spat with AstraZeneca at the moment, and the UK seems to be piggy in the middle.
AZ signed a contract to provide so many COVID vaccines to the EU. AZ has plants in Belgium and the Netherlands which it had earmarked for production, and they can’t keep up.
AZ also has plants in the UK, which are supplying the UK with the vaccine.
The EU thinks that the supplies earmarked for the UK should be diverted to make up the shortfall. So, that’s the extent to wgich the UK is involved – the EU wants AZ to reroute supplies which would otherwise be destined for the UK.
Yesterday, I saw stories about the EU introducing export controls (presumably they want vaccines made in the EU to be reserved for EU citizens, which seems strange when it has strict rules about protectionism) and today, I saw a story about checks on the Irish border (which is the land border between the UK and the EU).
Doesn’t all this seem a bit silly? I mean, we’re in the context where somebody could carry the virus, quite easily, from UK to EU, or vice versa, so does it not seem silly to be worrying about who gets vaccinated first?
And it makes me realise that this is a whole lot bigger than the UK and the EU. It could happen between any two neighbours. One has the vaccine and one does not, but because borders are porous, what difference does it make, who gets the vaccine first? Plus, of course, airline travel allows us to fly globally, so the spat is not even restricted to neighbours.
I suppose the cynic in me recognises that politicians will be elected by their own people, so their care stops at that point. But surely the one thing the pandemic should have taught them is that there is no them or us?