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Threatening to withhold Covid vaccines from other countries is “not something we should be considering”, the former head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce has said. 

Kate Bingham said the UK’s head-start was down to early production preparation, as much as it was down to signing a contract early on.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not going to get into the details of the contacts but one of the things the CEO of AZ (AstraZeneca) did not mention is that we actually started scaling up manufacture of the Oxford vaccine from February.

“So, yes, we signed the contract, or agreed terms with AZ, in May, but actually the work to scale up the manufacturing started months before that, and it is that early work that was done by the industry – voluntarily, not based on contracts or requirements but a voluntary coalition of the different companies.

“That is what has ultimately made the difference as to why we are so far ahead on manufacturing.”

Asked about AstraZeneca’s dispute with the European Union, Ms Bingham said: “We are interdependent and I don’t think that the idea that there are going to be trade barriers is something that we should be considering.”

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