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Johnson says ‘greed’, ‘capitalism’ behind vaccine successes

Johnson's comments risk inflaming an ongoing row between the UK and EU over the supply of vaccine doses [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

Johnson says ‘greed’, ‘capitalism’ behind vaccine successes

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told legislators from

m’s rapid COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Johnson’s comments on Tuesday, reported by The Sun newspaper, were made during a closed Zoom meeting with Conservative MPs during which he also praised pharmaceutical companies for developing vaccines at speed.

“The reason we’ve the vaccine success is due to capitalism, due to greed my friends,” Johnson was quoted as saying.

Johnson later attempted to backtrack on the comments, reportedly telling his fellow Conservatives to “forget” what he said and adding that he regretted his initial remarks.

The UK on Tuesday observed a national day of reflection, a year after it first went into a COVID-19 lockdown.

The pandemic has killed quite 125,000 people within the UK and plunged the economy into recession.

At the time of publication, the prime minister’s office had not skilled Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told UK broadcaster Sky News on Wednesday that she had not been within the meeting.

UK-EU vaccine row
The UK is gradually easing lockdown restrictions under an idea underpinned by the success of the national vaccination campaign, which has seen quite 28 million people receive a primary dose so far – one among the quickest rollouts within the world.

But tensions are running high with the ecu Union over supply because the bloc is considering imposing a vaccine exports ban on the united kingdom .

It is understood that the move is aimed toward ensuring the EU doesn’t export more vaccines than it imports.

On Tuesday, an EU official said the ecu Commission will extend the bloc’s powers to potentially block vaccine exports to the united kingdom – and other areas with much higher vaccination rates. The measures also will block companies from backloading contracted supplies.

The EU’s own vaccination campaign, suffering from shortages and delays, lags behind the united kingdom and other nations including the us and Israel.

Johnson’s comments, which an unidentified source told The Sun weren’t connected to the EU furore, could inflame the row.

‘Insulting’
His remarks also drew criticism online, as politicians and public figures took to Twitter to condemn the prime minister’s reported sentiments.

Andy Burnham, member of the opposition Labour Party and mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: “Celebrating ‘greed’ during a pandemic? standard Tories.”

Labour MP Peter Kyle said vaccines had been delivered by “scientific brilliance and astonishingly hard work”.

“Two traits that elude [Boris Johnson],” he tweeted.

Francis O’ Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which represents unions within the UK, said: “What an insulting thanks to thank our brilliant scientists, researchers, NHS staff and volunteers.”

Several healthcare workers also expressed their dismay.

“Disgusting remarks,” Julia Grace Patterson, a doctor, and chief executive of the campaign group EveryDoctor, posted on Twitter.

“The enormous efforts of scientists and healthcare workers have delivered success. what is going to make sure that vast swathes of the world’s population cannot access vaccines safely? Capitalism and greed.”

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