Watch: Boris Johnson hits back at EU accusation that UK blocked COVID vaccine exports
The claim by European Council president Charles Michel sparked anger within the UK government, with senior EU diplomat Nicole Mannion summoned to the Foreign Office over the row on Wednesday.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) shortly afterwards, Johnson said the UK should be "proud" of the success of its vaccine rollout so far, as well as the £548m it has invested in the global Covax initiative for fairer distribution of the jab.
“I therefore wish," Johnson said, "to correct the suggestion from the European Council president that the UK has blocked vaccine exports.
"Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components.
"This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the battle for global health – we oppose vaccine nationalism in all its forms.”
Michel, in a newsletter on Tuesday, had said he was “shocked” when he heard allegations of vaccine nationalism levelled at the EU, going on to say: “The UK and the US have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory.
“But the EU, 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.”
The UK government had issued a firm denial of the EU's claim about exports, with foreign secretary Dominic Raab labelling it "completely false".
Michel's claim added to tensions which already existed over the COVID vaccine between the UK and EU.
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.
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.
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