- A leading business group has warned the EU that its plan to limit the exports of COVID-19 vaccines could have “devastating implications” on the global supply of vaccines in a letter seen by Business Insider.
- The International Chamber of Commerce said the plan by Brussels to allow export controls on vaccines risked sparking “retaliatory action” from other countries which could “very rapidly erode essential supply chains.”
- They warn that such a move would also wipe trillions of dollars worth of growth off the world economy.
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A leading international business group has warned the EU that its plan to limit the exports of COVID-19 vaccines could have “devastating implications” on the global supply of vaccines in a letter seen by Business Insider.
The International Chamber of Commerce, which represents over 45 million businesses, wrote to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday and said the plan by Brussels to to allow export controls on vaccines risked sparking “retaliatory action” from other countries which could “very rapidly erode essential supply chains.”
“As you will be aware, vaccine supply chains are inherently global in nature – indeed, some inputs required for approved COVID-19 vaccinations can only be sourced in a handful of countries,” wrote John Denton, Secretary General of the ICC.
“In this context, our immediate fear is that the proposed EU export controls risk triggering retaliatory actions by third countries that could very rapidly erode essential supply chains.
“Such a chain of events – which seems entirely foreseeable given the rapid escalation in trade barriers on personal protective equipment at the outset of the pandemic – would have devastating implications on the supply of vaccines globally, including across EU member states.”
Read the ICC letter in full
Denton said that, despite the EU’s emphasis that proposed export limits on vaccines would not affect “humanitarian deliveries,” the plan still risked affecting the supply of vaccines to vulnerable countries which rely on European manufacturing facilities.
The group also cites a study suggesting that restricting vaccine supply to other parts of the world would cause severe damage to the world economy, including in Europe, of between $4-9 trillion.
“Around half of these losses will be borne by advanced economies – regardless of the speed of their domestic vaccination campaigns – owing to continued supply and demand disruptions in global value chains,” they write.
The warning comes after a row among the EU, the UK, and AstraZeneca this week after the drugs firm said it would reduce supplies of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc by 75% due to production problems.
The decision prompted furious EU officials to propose a mechanism which will allow member states to block exports of vaccines manufactured within their own countries if they have not received prior authorization. The EU published details of the mechanism on Friday.
AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot insisted this week in an interview with La Repubblica that the British government had a claim to vaccines produced in the UK.
But Von Der Leyen insisted this week that it was “crystal clear” that AstraZeneca should divert doses of its COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in the UK to Brussels, insisting that a “best effort” clause in AstraZeneca’s EU contract meant it was obliged to fulfill the entire order of vaccines.
“There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear,” she told German radio station Deutschlandfunk, in comments reported by the Guardian. “AstraZeneca has also explicitly assured us in this contract that no other obligations would prevent the contract from being fulfilled.”
Business Insider has contacted the European Commission for comment.