Health News

EU says UK spurning vaccine scheme would not affect drugmaker talks

FILE PHOTO: European Union and British flags flutter in front of a chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday that a possible decision by the United Kingdom not to join an EU scheme to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines up front would not affect talks the bloc is conducting with several drugmakers.

On Thursday, the British Telegraph newspaper reported that the UK government had decided not to join the EU scheme because of concerns that there could be costly delays in securing the vaccines.

“The fact that the UK has apparently said they would not join up to whatever contract we are able to negotiate with producers is definitely not something that is going to influence our own negotiations with the producers,” a spokesman for the EU executive told a news conference.

He said the EU was currently negotiating advance purchases of vaccines still under development with a series of producers.

Reuters exclusively reported in June that the bloc was in talks with pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and French drugmaker Sanofi to secure potential coronavirus vaccines from them in advance..

The Commission had no comment on whether the UK’s possible decision could increase competition to acquire vaccines and thus push up prices.

He said the’s EU population of about 450 million people made it an important market for any drugmaker.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio and Marine Strauss