Behind the scenes

Has Boris Johnson ‘trolled’ the EU over vaccine rollout ahead of G7 meeting?

PM calls on Europe to deploy its ‘collective ingenuity’ to speed up vaccine development

Boris Johnson has taken what pundits are interpreting as a sly dig at the EU’s slow vaccine rollout ahead a G7 summit today.

In comments released by Downing Street last night, the prime minister urged the EU to pool its “collective ingenuity” to develop new vaccines to tackle new coronavirus strains within a time frame of just 100 days - far far faster than the 300-odd days of work that went into creating each jab last year. 

“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels,” Johnson said.

Given the EU’s “lag” in rolling out vaccines compared to Britain, “some in Brussels were inclined to see the proposal as Johnson’s attempt to troll Europe”, according to Politico’s Brussels Playbook.

Hammering home the success of the UK’s jab procurement, the prime minister will today deliver a speech at the G7 virtual meeting in which he pledges to donate the majority of the country’s surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries.

The UK has ordered a total of more than 400 million doses of seven vaccines - enough to vaccinate the population six times over. However, the campaign is “contingent on a reliable supply chain” and depends on whether new vaccines to tackle mutant strains are required, says The Telegraph.

Emmanuel Macron has backed Johnson’s call for richer countries to donate surplus vaccines, and is calling on Europe and the US to urgently send up to 5% of their supplies to developing nations.

The French president told the Financial Times that “each country should set aside a small number of the doses it has to transfer tens of millions of them, but very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening”.

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