Health

Matt Hancock ‘vetoed’ UK-US vaccine deal because it DIDN’T guarantee the UK would get supplies first

Matt Hancock ‘vetoed first Oxford vaccine contract’ with US pharma giant Merck because it DIDN’T guarantee the UK would get supplies first and he was worried Donald Trump could block exports to the UK

  • Health Secretary torpedoed deal between the University of Oxford and Merck 
  • He intervened to ensure that some of the vaccines were available in the UK first 
  • Fears that Donald Trump could ban exports of the live-saving drug if made in US

Matt Hancock vetoed a deal to manufacture a British coronavirus vaccine in the United States because it did not guarantee the UK would get the first supply of jabs.

The Health Secretary torpedoed a deal between the University of Oxford and American pharma giant Merck over fears that Donald Trump could ban exports of the live-saving drug.

Oxford and New Jersey-based Merck were on the verge of signing contracts when he intervened to ensure that at least some of the vaccines were available in the UK first, according to Sky News.

A former Department of Health advisor told the broadcaster: ‘He was just meant to confirm he was happy, and then it would have happened immediately. 

‘But he wasn’t, and overruled officials to block the deal.’

Oxford went on to sign a deal with Anglo-Swedish drugs firm AstraZeneca, which is assembling vaccines at a plant in Wrexham, north Wales. 

The UK ordered 100million doses of the drug and it has been part of the successful vaccine rollout – and the source of fury in the EU amid its own sluggish programme.

The Health Secretary torpedoed a deal between the University of Oxford and American pharma giant Merck over fears that Donald Trump could ban exports of the live-saving drug.

Oxford went on to sign a deal with Anglo-Swedish drugs firm AstraZeneca, which is assembling vaccines at a plant in Wrexham, north Wales.

Oxford went on to sign a deal with Anglo-Swedish drugs firm AstraZeneca, which is assembling vaccines at a plant in Wrexham, north Wales.

Oxford and New Jersey-based Merck were on the verge of signing contracts when he intervened to ensure that at least some of the vaccines were available in the UK first, according to Sky News

Oxford and New Jersey-based Merck were on the verge of signing contracts when he intervened to ensure that at least some of the vaccines were available in the UK first, according to Sky News

The UK may now be in a position to send spare coronavirus vaccines to Ireland after the EU humiliatingly backed down in the bitter row over threat to British supplies.

The success of the drive to secure jabs could mean that by the summer stocks can be shared with other countries – as Boris Johnson warned the pandemic cannot be tackled in isolation.

Downing Street is trying to draw a line under the extraordinary spat with Brussels that saw Ursula von der Leyen threaten to impose a hard border on the island of Ireland to prevent vaccines from the EU getting into the UK.

The commission president – under huge pressure over the bungled rollout on the continent – dropped the idea after a furious international backlash.

However, there is mounting speculation that the UK could soon be helping neighbours inoculate their populations – with Ireland expected to be first in line.

The UK Government has also ordered an extra 40million doses of Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine, taking its total to 100million doses.

Still in clinical trials, the two-dose jab isn’t expected to be delivered until the second half of 2021 but it is already being manufactured in Livingston, Scotland.

It’s likely that most or all adults in Britain will already have had one of the other Covid vaccines by the time this one is ready. But infectious disease experts say people may need re-vaccinating in future and the UK may also export to other countries.

Britain has now ordered a total of 407million doses of Covid vaccines – enough to give the entire population, including children, six doses each.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed the stockpile was enough to ‘protect the British public in 2021 and beyond’.

The jab is the first of its kind to be developed in the West and is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’, meaning it works by injecting people with a destroyed version of the real coronavirus.

This allows the immune system to train itself to attack the actual virus, without the risk of it actually causing an infection.

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