| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Le Drian claims France has the same number of vaccinated people as UK

The latest UK Department of Health data show more than 29 million residents have had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 3 million have had their booster jab — well ahead of the EU’s lumbering centralized immunization programme despite repeated threats from Brussels to block exports to the island nation.

Claims by some in the European Union (EU) that the bloc is winning its COVID-19 ‘Vaccine War’ against the UK rang increasingly hollow yesterday as the British inoculation drive surged ahead.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian claimed on Friday that his country had given as many booster shots as Britain — and that the UK immunization drive was on the verge of collapse amid EU threats to block exports of the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca jab.

“The UK is proud to have vaccinated many people with the first dose, but they will have a problem with the second dose,” Le Drian claimed. “And we are fully vaccinated with two doses, not one. Today we have the same number of fully vaccinated people in France and the United Kingdom.”

But the latest British government data showed the vaccination rate soaring, with more than 230,000 people getting their second jab for the second day in a row.

Over 3 million Brits have now received the second dose, compared to 2.55 million French. As a proportion of the population, 4.5 percent of UK residents had been given both doses compared to 3.7 per cent in France.

“A cooperative relationship must be found with the UK so that AstraZeneca fulfils its signed commitments with the EU, but we can’t accept any sort of blackmail,” Le Drian insisted.

He claimed Britain was “pushing for the first jab, knowing there will be problems with the second one,” adding: “Europe does not have to pay the price for this policy.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in early January chose to give as many first doses to the most-vulnerable as possible, leaving follow-up shots for the maximum 12-week interval recommended by drug regulators.

The UK has now topped 29 million doses, some 56 percent of its adult population, outstripping the EU’s lagging vaccine programme more than four-fold.

Meanwhile European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whose insistence on centralizing vaccine approval and purchasing under her committee’s control, repeated her now-regular threats to block vaccine exports to the UK over its dispute with AstraZeneca and delivery schedules. Earlier this week the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant debunked sensationalist reports that it had “hidden” 29 million doses at a bottling plant in Italy

With some 64 million doses given over three months among a population of 450 million, at the current rate, EU member states will not have vaccinated their entire adult populations until sometime in 2023 — while Johnson’s government has pledged to hit that target this summer and lift the current coronavirus lockdown.

  • Sputnik