The EU demands British-funded vaccines but won’t make use of them

Eufemia Didonato

Coronaviruses in an elecron-microscope image - AFP

Coronaviruses in an elecron-microscope image – AFP

SIR – Even before the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (guided and funded by Britain) had proved effective, the Government found and invested £20 million in a production facility at the Halix plant in Holland. AZ invested further and, as production problems arose, sent a UK team to resolve them. But for that, no jabs would now be available from Halix.

The Dutch government, invited to invest, did not respond, as the European Commission wasted months haggling over pennies per shot.

The European Commission now claims those Halix AZ vaccines as “EU production”, while EU nations ignore the overwhelmingly favourable balance of risks and deny AZ jabs to sectors of their people. They distort the view of its benefits, leave stocks in fridges and trash AZ’s reputation.

The more the European Commission wriggles on a hook of its own making, the more starkly it outlines the foresight of Britain and Oxford-AstraZeneca and its own insipid, bureaucratic machinations.

Neil Harvey
London SE8

SIR – If all medical treatments were delayed because of rare complications it is unlikely that doctors would have anything to do. All drugs have side-effects; all surgery involves risk.

The slowing of the vaccine programme by the Germans because of an almost one-in-a-million chance of a blood clot is preposterous.

Let us hope our Government is guided by the science, as it has repeatedly claimed.

David Nunn FRCS
West Malling, Kent

SIR – It is truly amazing that Germany and France are willing to trust Russia’s Sputnik vaccine and to denounce the AstraZeneca one, which has been approved by the EU and UK regulatory authorities as well as the WHO.

The West has surely learnt time and again that you cannot trust anything that comes out of Russia. If Russia says there are no side-effects to their vaccine, it would appear Germany and France are prepared to take their word. Have they gone completely mad?

Stuart Moore
Bramham, West Yorkshire

SIR – In our present border disputes over vaccines, I am minded of the words of William Pitt the Younger during the Napoleonic wars: “By our exertions we have saved ourselves. By our example we may yet save Europe.”

Dr Tony Berry
Northampton

SIR – You don’t have to be an arch conspiracy theorist to see where Government restrictions are going.

Christmas becomes Easter. Easter is cancelled. Ending lockdown in June is possible only if we agree to vaccination passports. For all the positive data, the control the Government wants to exercise over our lives is endless.

Tony Delves
Wellington, Somerset

SIR – The Cabinet Office has been preparing a social media campaign to warn of a chance vaccinated people will infect those they love by visiting family and hugging grandchildren. In that case, what is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

John Castley
Langtoft, Lincolnshire

GPs missed symptoms

SIR – The assertion (Letters, April 2) by Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, that GPs have been in the vanguard in the fight against Covid-19 does not bear close scrutiny.

By the college’s own figures, there was “a slump in consultation rates” in the early stages of the outbreak. There were numerous deaths due to the refusal of many GPs to do home visits or go into care homes and nursing homes.

Had they done so, they would have been able to pick up silent hypoxia, using their pulse oximeters, and get patients admitted to hospital for life-saving oxygen.

Professor Marshall and the RCGP should be holding their heads in shame at their disgraceful failure of leadership. Silent hypoxia was recognised early in the pandemic as a deadly risk, yet they failed to disseminate information about it to GPs until early in 2021.

Dr Gregory Tanner
Middlezoy, Somerset

Union flag

SIR – A school head in Pimlico bows to pupil pressure after they have burnt the Union flag. In Hong Kong a pro-democracy activist proudly carries the Union flag in protest against Beijjng.

Dorothy Acford
Yate, Gloucestershire

Cats’ habits

SIR – When I was a child, it was pointed out to me that cats (Letters, April 2) would dig a hole in the border for their functions, and tidily cover it over afterwards. They no longer seem to do this.

Reg W Selfe
Benfleet, Essex

SIR – I am in my eighties and have time to watch my bird feeder. The birds would come in and out all day. Then my neighbours bought two kittens. Now they are cats and the birds don’t come anymore.

Joan Sedgwick
Reading, Berkshire

SIR – When I moved from Europe to Canada, I was appalled to find that “indoor cats” were the norm. I have observed, however, that they are extraordinarily contented, are always clean and free of infection and ticks – and don’t bother the neighbours.

Holly Jeffers
Bayfield, Ontario, Canada

Whose litter?

SIR – Andrew McCartney (Letters, April 2) finds it hard to comprehend the mentality of litter-droppers.

Might I contribute an analysis of litter cleared from only half mile of a B-road verge near here? Of 107 items, 23 came from McDonald’s (which has five outlets in Ashford and Folkestone, five and 10 miles away).

Among other significant finds: 15 “energy” drinks, 21 beer cans (mostly Stella and Carlsberg, though not Special Brew), two empty rosé bottles, six Costa cups, and only two cigarette packets. The remainder were snack wraps (one gluten-free), along with a McDonald’s receipt.

Maybe it’s time for regular analysis of regional litter before national action.

Patrick Williams
Warehorne, Kent

SIR – In Switzerland if you drop litter people will almost immediately point this out and insist that it is picked up and disposed of properly.

In Britain should anyone have the courage to admonish a litter lout they are likely to be met with foul-mouthed abuse and possibly physical violence.

Paul Strong
Claxby, Lincolnshire

Retreat of racism

SIR – I am mixed race, in my 50s, and I am delighted by the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. At last there is a chance for a proper debate and discourse on race.

I have seen the huge strides in race relations since I first encountered abuse due to the colour of my skin in 1978. In the 1990s some areas were considered no-go, due to horrific racist graffiti. I can think of nowhere in the United Kingdom I would not visit now.

However, there are certain areas in other countries such as the United States where I would not dare tread.

Matthew Michael
Maldon, Essex

SIR – I am at a loss to understand those who believe the United Kingdom to be racist. A nation of 70 million, over 80 per cent of white origin, it has the most ethnically diverse government and a fantastic Health Service dependent upon specialists, doctors and nurses from around the world.

British media give far more coverage to ethnic minorities than might be expected from their numbers.

Much of the accusation of “racism” comes from those who wish to disrupt our society, through street protest and the internet.

If we are racist why is half the world prepared to risk life and limb to join us? Name a more tolerant country.

Richard English
Poundbury, Dorset

University origins

SIR – The use of first names alone in the self-introductions on University Challenge may be annoying (Letters, April 1), but so is the formula often combined with it: “originally from…”.

Do those using it imply that they have severed contact with home by being at university for part of the year?

Correlations between these two formulae and contest scores might be educational.

Dugald Barr
London W8

Nothing to polish

SIR – I sympathise with Richard Preston (Letters, April 2) over the dearth of shoe polish in supermarkets.

I put it down to the fact that no one polishes the trainers that everyone seems to wear.

Peter Fernie
Tawin Island, Co Galway, Ireland

Walkers are growing brisker

Walk along the Embankment at Chelsea by Frederick Brown (1851-1941) - www.bridgemanimages.com

Walk along the Embankment at Chelsea by Frederick Brown (1851-1941) – www.bridgemanimages.com

SIR – A very positive aspect of lockdown has been the increasing number of regular walkers to be seen in parks and open spaces.

It is also noticeable that the fitness levels of these walkers has improved. Often, the stroll has changed to a brisk pace. Our regular dog-walkers are overtaken by walkers determined to achieve a set time over a measured distance.

Paul French
Andover, Hampshire

Instructions on how to suck eggs

SIR – I read the instructions (Letters, April 1) with a new electric kettle: “Warning, this appliance generates heat.”

Martin Sherman
Pinner, Middlesex

SIR – The product guidance that always makes me laugh and wonder at what the world is coming to, in equal measure, is Sainsbury’s carbonated water.

This, we are told, can be drunk “on its own, with food, or as a mixer”.

Charlie Bladon
Cattistock, Dorset

SIR – I recently purchased a submersible water-butt pump so that I can water a new vegetable garden.

Among the safety instructions, I am advised not to use the pump when people are in the water, nor should people be allowed to enter the water while the pump is being operated.

Presumably it is OK to swim in the water butt when the pump is switched off as long as I am socially distanced.

Mike Clark
Lavant, West Sussex

SIR – On a packet of extra-strong throat sweets the instruction was: “For oral use only.” I shudder to think of the alternative.

Peter Finch
Reading, Berkshire

SIR – I have been most grateful during my career as a dentist that local anaesthetic cartridges displayed the helpful phrase: “Inject into the gums.”

Simon Elphick
Trowse, Norfolk

SIR – I once bought a bottle of shampoo which instructed me to “pour a small quantity of shampoo into the palm of each hand…”

I am too ashamed to record how long it took me to work out how I might accomplish this without help.

Tony Morgan
Taunton, Somerset

SIR – I have just ordered a pair of slippers online from a major retailer.

The confirmation email included this message: “Please note, your order may be despatched from multiple locations. Therefore, it could arrive in separate deliveries.”

Michael Thomas
Uffington, Oxfordshire

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