Rebuttal: A Vaccine against Disinformation?


Desperation by European leaders has led to a series of bizarre claims about Britain and AstraZeneca’s behaviour.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The extent of the misinformation from various European sources over vaccinations is so substantial that one has trouble knowing where to begin.  Let’s start with accusations that UK was trying to ‘blackmail’ the EU by France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.  Given the UK’s done nothing of the sort it’s hard to refute this one by reference to actual facts.  If it’s a reference to Boris Johnson’s observation that seizing property doesn’t tend to make you a very attractive destination for investment, then Mr Le Drian needs to get himself a dictionary.

There was the claim by Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, that ‘certain companies’ (ie. AstraZeneca) sold their vaccines two or three times over.  This unsubstantiated, Trumpian speculation is the more bizarre because AstraZeneca produces the vaccine at cost.  There’s no incentive for the company to behave in this way – as Draghi, the former head of the ECB, ought and likely does understand all too well.

This cynicism was compounded by the raid he ordered (at the European Commission’s behest) on an Italian finishing plant for AstraZeneca vaccine.  ‘Discovering’ 29m doses, European leaders initially claimed that this was a secret stockpile for delivery to the UK.  As it turned out, around half were for the EU, and the other half for the COVAX programme – which supplies vaccines to developing countries.

Contrary to the fig leaf the Commission presents about only prohibiting exports to nations with higher vaccination rates than itself, it’s entirely in keeping with previous policy.  After Italy confiscated doses paid for by the Australian government, Canberra petitioned Brussels to release vaccine supplies which Australia planned to send to Papua New Guinea to deal with the COVID crisis there.  The Commission, of course, made no response.

At this point, by contrast, readers might be reminded that Britain was the largest donor to COVAX’s market financing mechanism for most of 2020.  The EU and its apologists like to carp about how many vaccines ‘they’ export – but, as is rightly reported ad nauseam, the EU didn’t produce or pay for them – private companies based in Europe and third countries did.  As Dr Anna Bailey writes for our website, confiscating their property and tearing up their contracts amounts to a serious breach of the rule of lawA funny way for a ‘rules-based’ organisation to behave.

Seizing COVAX doses is, alas, just the logical next step towards vaccine piracy.  As the French industry minister put it to reporters, ‘we are in discussions about the rest of the doses, but the advantage now is that we have got our hands on them’.  It is quite possible that Macron can only meet his grandiose promises of intensified vaccinations, and redeem his mismanagement of France’s spiralling case numbers, by confiscating charitable donations to poor countries.  The indifference of the Ancien Régime, it seems, is alive and well.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Briefings For Britain