AstraZeneca jabs are in the middle of a EU-UK row yet again after Brussels threatened to ban exports of the vaccine.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he was "reassured" after speaking with European leaders over coronavirus vaccine exports.
The European Union and the UK have been clashing over exporting jabs and their components. The row is fueled by post-Brexit tensions and a slow vaccine rollout throughout the EU member states.
"I'm reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months, they don't want to see blockades, I think that's very very important," Johnson said.
The UK leader reportedly spoke about the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.
The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has threatened to impose a ban on exporting the AstraZeneca shots as the Anglo-Swedish supplier delayed vaccine deliveries.
Von der Leyen said the bloc has exported at least nine million doses to the UK, but Britain has not exported any to the EU.
The EU Council previously accused Britain of blocking jab exports, describing it as "vaccine nationalism." But the UK denied the allegations.
According to the Reuters news agency, Britain wants deliveries of a drug substance produced in the Netherlands, which AstraZeneca listed in both contracts it signed with the EU and UK.
An EU official reportedly blamed pharmaceutical company for the row with the UK.
"The UK is not to blame. The EU is not to blame," an EU official told Reuters. "It's about everyone finding agreement with a company that has been over-selling its production capacity."
Eric Mamer, chief EU Commission spokesman, said the bloc's stance was that they "expect AstraZeneca to deliver the doses to the European Union that have been contracted. Contacts are ongoing with the company."
The EU insists that AstraZeneca delivers the contracted 90 million doses.
EU leaders are set to discuss a possible ban on vaccine exports on Thursday.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin warned on Monday that an EU block on vaccines heading to Britain would be "a very retrograde step."
Meanwhile, France fully backed von der Leyen's threats, according to news reports. And Germany is also expected to be in favor of the EU Commission chief's proposal.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, seems to be favorable of reaching a deal to end the row. A Dutch official told AFP news agency that a decision against exports would be "a lose-lose scenario," urging the EU and the UK to negotiate instead of a hard ban.
An EU spokesman said the bloc was in talks with Britain.
Italy, backed by the EU, stopped around 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca leaving for Australia earlier in March. Rome then argued that AstraZeneca had not provided enough vaccines for Europe.
fb/dj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)