UK denies ‘completely false’ vaccine export ban claims

Dominic Raab writes to European Council president to ‘set record straight’

A vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photograph: Kyiv City Council/EPA

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab has written to the European Council president after he claimed the UK imposed an "outright ban" on coronavirus vaccine exports.

Charles Michel accused Britain and the US of imposing bans on the movement of jabs as he used a newsletter to hit back at criticisms of the bloc's vaccine rollout.

The foreign secretary sought to “set the record straight” in a letter to the EU chief on Tuesday evening, writing that “any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false”.

Mr Raab insisted the British government “has not blocked a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components”, adding: “We are all facing this pandemic together.”


In the latest display of post-Brexit turbulence, a representative of the EU’s delegation to the UK has been summoned to a meeting at the British foreign, Commonwealth and development office over the issue.


The PA news agency understands the decision was taken due to anger over the claim being repeated within the EU and the Commission, despite the UK correcting the record on each occasion.

Mr Michel, in a newsletter on Tuesday, said he was “shocked” when he heard allegations of vaccine nationalism levelled at the EU, saying: “The facts do not lie.”

He added: "The United Kingdom and the United States have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory.

"But the European Union, the region with the largest vaccine production capacity in the world, has simply put in place a system for controlling the export of doses produced in the EU."

A British government spokesman said: “The UK government has not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine. Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false.

“This pandemic is a global challenge and international collaboration on vaccine development continues to be an integral part of our response.”

In January, the EU briefly attempted to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to impose controls on vaccines.

But it swiftly backtracked after coming in for widespread criticism over the move, which came as it faced significant pressure over delays to the rollout of its vaccination programme. – PA