FRANCE has accused Britain of ignoring scientific advice and risking lives with its speedy roll out of coronavirus vaccines.
Europe minister Clement Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, claimed the UK was “taking many risks” in its independent vaccine scheme. He questioned Britain’s decision to give out doses 12 weeks apart and questioned the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. Asked whether the EU’s handling of the pandemic was an advert for Brexit, Mr Beaune replied: “It has nothing to do with Brexit, but I understand that you make the comparison.
“The British are in an extremely difficult health situation. They are taking many risks in this vaccination campaign. And I can understand it, but they are taking many risks.
“They have massively spaced, and the scientists have told us not to, the two injections apart to up to 42 days.
“They mainly depend on one vaccine, AstraZeneca. The European authority will tell us tomorrow, but Germany has already told us about doubts regarding the effectiveness in people above 65.
“The UK has used the vaccine in this age group. So I understand that if they are in a difficult health situation, they take additional risks, that I do not think our citizens would accept if we took all those risks despite the recommendations of our scientists.”
In a separate interview, Mr Beaune suggested that the European Union would seek to punish AstraZeneca, the maker of the Oxford-produced jab, if it fails to deliver sufficient doses to member states.
The EU and the Anglo-Swedish firm have been locked in a row after the firm announced it would slash the number of Covid vaccines shipped to the bloc.
AstraZeneca has since sent a peace offering of nine million extra jabs to the bloc.
It will now send 40 million doses of the Oxford-produced Covid vaccine to member states by the end of March – up from a previous offer of 31 million jabs.
The concession, however, leaves European capitals with a shortfall of around 40 million doses after they were expected to receive 80 million vaccines from AstraZeneca in that time period.
But some in Brussels have claimed the firm had used EU funds and doses produced in the bloc to fulfil Britain’s order of Oxford jabs.
Mr Beaune suggested the EU could start withholding payments from vaccine makers if they fail to deliver in the future.
He added: “I don’t want suspicion or conspiracy, but we need clarity and transparency.
“At the moment, there is an investigation that is in the process of being finalised to see precisely what was delivered in Europe and to the UK from factories that produce in Europe.