Vaccines have dominated the headlines again this week, amid warnings of shortages in the UK and a brewing row triggered by jab safety concerns across Europe.
Boris Johnson was left scrambling to get five million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine released from India, after reported plans to send the UK’s inoculation campaign into “overdrive” were thrown into doubt by fears of imminent dose shortages.
The prime minister is facing further headaches after clashing with the EU - again - over Downing Street’s plan to unilaterally delay the implementation of parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. Brussels is launching legal action over the alleged breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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And with countries across Europe halting the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab as a result of unproven fears that the jab may cause blood clots, the bloc has also threatened to tackle its shortfall by using emergency powers to ban exports of Covid vaccines to the UK.
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In the US, Joe Biden has been fleshing out his foreign policy plans after making his first major intervention in the Middle East last week. The president has now provoked anger in Moscow by labelling Vladimir Putin a “killer” and hinting at a more aggressive stance towards Russia - a move welcomed by Republican lawmakers.
As the US president sets about establishing his foreign policy credentials, a newly published report from his UK counterpart’s government lays out recommendations to redefine Britain’s place in the world. Titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the 100-page report outlines plans to to boost economic ties with China, yet also warns that the nuclear superpower is the “biggest-state based threat” to the UK’s economic security.
Over on the Continent, a poor showing in regional elections in Germany has marked a rocky start to a national election year for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has also lost face, after publicly blasting the EU over a vaccine distribution deal that was agreed by the governments of all member states - including Vienna.
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