False claim: Boris Johnson refused offer of 50,000 ventilators from the European Union 

Multiple social media posts, including many on Facebook (hereherehere), claim that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused an offer of 50,000 ventilators from the European Union. The UK did not join an initial effort by European Union member states to jointly procure medical supplies, including ventilators. But the nature of the procurement process means that the EU could not offer any country a specific number of ventilators.

The European Commission launched a joint procurement procedure on March 17, 2020 to secure ventilators on behalf of European Union member states (here). The UK did not take part in this initiative, having missed a deadline to participate (here).

“Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to join in four joint procurements in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” a UK government spokesman said in a statement (here). “As those four initial procurement schemes had already gone out to tender, we were unable to take part in these but we will consider participating in future procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time.”

Stefan De Keersmaecker, a spokesman at the European Commission, told Reuters: “For this joint procurement, suppliers still have to sign a framework contract, and member states have to place their orders. When placing these orders, the member states and the suppliers will negotiate the quantities and deadlines for deliveries. In the context of this joint procurement, it is therefore not the Commission itself which is offering ventilators.”


False: an offer of 50,000 ventilators was not made to the UK Government by the European Union. It is not yet clear how many ventilators can be secured by the European Union joint procurement scheme.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here