Brexit backlash: Tony Blair claims EU’s vaccine farce down to losing Britain

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With the UK still within the bloc, Mr Blair claimed the failed procurement plan would have remained with each member state rather than in the hands of the Commission. Mr Blair said it was unwise for the EU to take over the vaccine procurement process as it too difficult to coordinate the programme for so many member states. During an interview, he indicated the UK’s vaccine taskforce had been ideally suited to buy up drugs due to its size in comparison to the EU’s administrators.

Speaking to German publication, Die Welt, Mr Blair said: “What would have happened with the British as an EU member?

“With the British in the EU, the vaccine procurement would have remained in the hands of the national states.

“It was always unreasonable to do it differently.

“Governments are good at setting frameworks.

“But, as I know myself from my time as Prime Minister, they aren’t always good with the implementation.”

The EU’s vaccine fiasco has come under intense scrutiny, and although vaccines were bought up last year, late deals caused delays in supplies.

This has meant multiple member states have now broken away from the EU to sign separate deals for vaccines due to the slow nature of the bloc.

Austria and Denmark have now partnered with Israel for coronavirus vaccines, it was announced today.

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the EU’s approval of vaccines had been right in principle but had been shown to be too slow to vaccinate member states.

He said: “Austria and Denmark will no longer rely on the EU in the future and will in the coming years produce doses of second-generation vaccine for further mutations of the coronavirus together with Israel as well as researching jointly treatment possibilities.

“We must prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent solely on the EU in the production of second-generation vaccines.”

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, also claimed the EU system can’t be relied on going forward.

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She added: “That is why we are now fortunate to start a partnership with Israel.”

Slovakia has also gone ahead to buy doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine although it has not been approved by the EU.

Hungary has also bought up doses of the drug and last week began the rollout of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Like the Russian vaccine, the Chinese drug has not been approved by the EU.

Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban has also criticised the slow approach the EU has taken to vaccines.

It is this slow process, Mr Blair warned must be improved for future outbreaks.

He concluded: “In the next pandemic, vaccine production has to go faster.

“Fifteen months have passed between the discovery of the virus and the substantial production of vaccines.

“That has to be shortened to three to four months.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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