Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has written to health secretary Matt Hancock urging him to join an EU initiative to secure adequate supplies of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
Last week the European Commission launched a new strategy to develop an effective vaccine and allow countries to pool together to buy sufficient supplies through advance purchase deals with manufacturers. The initiative would also help distribute a vaccine to developing countries.
The UK is able to take part in the scheme throughout the transition period, which is due to come to an end on 31 December 2020.
Layla Moran is calling on the UK government to both take part in the EU vaccine scheme and extend the transition period, to ensure the country can continue to benefit if a vaccine is developed next year. It comes after the UK government failed to participate in earlier EU schemes to jointly procure potentially life-saving medical equipment such as ventilators and protective equipment, with officials blaming an email mix-up.
The strategy has the following objectives:
- Ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines.
- Securing swift access to vaccines for Member States and their populations while leading the global solidarity effort.
- Ensuring equitable access to an affordable vaccine as early as possible.
Layla Moran said: “The government must put lives before ideology and join EU efforts to secure access to a coronavirus vaccine.
"Working together with our neighbours will increase the chances of developing an effective vaccine and deploying it around Europe and the world as soon as possible.
“Opportunities have already been missed to take part in vital EU schemes that could have helped the NHS combat this pandemic by securing life-saving equipment. We must ensure those mistakes aren't made again.
"This should go hand in hand with an extension to the transition period, to ensure the UK can continue to benefit from this EU-wide scheme if a vaccine is developed next year."