France 'stole' almost five million AstraZeneca vaccine doses that had been destined for Britain, it has been reported.
President Emmanuel Macron plotted with European Union chiefs to halt the export of jabs to Britain earlier this year.
UK gov has tonight confirmed that France stole 5m of our vaccines in march. This to me is the final straw. We must no longet consider them allies.— Anthony O'Neill (@AnthonyAinsdale) October 5, 2021
France's bitter Brexit revenge – Macron BLOCKS almost 5M UK AstraZeneca shipments https://t.co/biQijGvT5s
A huge batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which had been expected to arrive in the UK was instead diverted from Holland at the last minute, The Sun reported.
The UK's relations with France and Brussels hit a low in March when the domestic vaccine roll-out tore ahead of the EU's.
Mr Macron incorrectly claimed that the AstraZeneca jab was 'quasi-ineffective', whilst European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen threatened to stop the Pfizer vaccine from being sent to the UK.
On March 22, Astra Zeneca's boss Rudd Dobber stated that a batch equivalent to several million doses had been expected to arrive from its production site in Holland.
However, it never arrived and was instead diverted to the EU-wide scheme.
A government source told The Sun that the diversion of the doses was 'outrageous' and akin to an 'act of war' which could have 'cost lives'.
'The French stole our vaccines at the same time as they were slagging them off in public and suggesting they weren't safe to use,' they said.
'It was an outrageous thing to do and not the action of an ally, which was made very clear to them.
'Withholding vaccines by stopping them leaving the EU had the potential to cost lives with people waiting for both first and second jabs.'
In March, EU leaders threatened to impose an export ban to block shipments of second vaccine doses to the UK.
At the time, France suggested Britain did not have enough doses of the Pfizer jab to administer second doses, hinting that the continuance of the rollout was at the mercy of EU supply chains.
Brussels then accused AstraZeneca of reneging on its contract to supply the bloc with 120million doses in the first quarter of this year.
France 'stole' nearly five million AstraZeneca vaccine doses destined for Britain last spring 'costing lives in the UK' https://t.co/phkKlb6hPe— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 6, 2021
Hardline EU nations justified their support for halting shipments of the vaccine by accusing the UK of failing to export any doses to the Continent.
Throwing his weight firmly behind the ban at the time, Macron fumed: 'Europe is not a selfish continent.
'Because when I read what the press on the other side of the Channel writes, we're being accused of being selfish. Wrong! We let our supply chains untouched.
'But we saw that the United States tend to protect their own vaccine production... that the United Kingdom did not export many doses. Actually, none. So we put in place an export control mechanism.'
After the French president questioned the effectiveness of the jab and Ms von der Leyen accused the UK of cutting corners in its approval, many Europeans shunned the vaccine.
Fears that the Astra Zeneca jab caused blood clots then led to a host of European nations halting its use.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.