UK turns down chance to join EU virus vaccine scheme

The UK,  which has the worst coronavirus death toll of any European state, has rejected the chance to join a European Union-wide vaccine programme, it said Friday.

Britain’s ambassador to Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow, said in a letter that London would not sign up to the programme because it had concerns over key issues.

He said if the UK joined the scheme it would have no say on price or which vaccine manufacturers it could negotiate with.

“The UK Government has decided on this occasion not to join this internal EU initiative, but given our shared interest in ensuring that vaccines are available to all, we are committed to strengthening our collaboration with the EU outside the framework,” Barrow wrote.

The EU programme aims to enter deals with individual vaccine producers on behalf of the 27 member states.

The UK officially left the EU at the end of last year but is currently in a 12-month transition period with the bloc until December 31.

Official figures published on Friday showed that the number of people who have died in the UK after contracting the virus stands at 44,650, although the final figure is expected to be much higher.