UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to leaders of the European Union (EU) over the phone to discuss a ban on the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine exports to the country, a media report said.

The BBC report said that Johnson will make the calls this week in a bid “to persuade them to veto any proposal that would prevent vaccine exports from entering the UK”.

The latest flashpoint appears to be over doses made in a Dutch factory, the report said.

Some of the leaders the Prime Minister is likely to speak with are French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to British officials quoted by the Financial Times.

On Thursday, the EU leaders will hold a virtual meeting to discuss the ban on exports of the jabs to the UK which comes after they faced widespread faced criticism for the slow pace of the vaccine rollout on the continent.

The BBC report said that less than 12 per cent of the bloc’s population is reported to have been inoculated against the virus, compared with nearly 40 per cent in the UK.

According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU has exported 41 million vaccine doses to 33 countries in six weeks, with more than 10 million jabs to the UK.

In a warning last week, she said that the EU can “forbid” vaccines made on the continent being sent to the UK if exports from Britain do not improve.

Regarding the ongoing dispute, the UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC on Sunday that the EU should not “build walls” which would “only damage both EU citizens and UK”.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has urged all sides to “calm down” as no decisions have been taken on a ban as of now.

–IANS

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