The UK has opted out of the European Union’s coronavirus vaccine scheme, local media reported on Friday.
The EU’s €2 billion scheme is set to purchase vaccines in advance and test them on behalf of its member states.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma is reported to have made the opt-out decision.
Government sources told the Daily Telegraph that they were concerned about “costly delays,” fearing that signing up for the program could delay vaccinations in the UK by six months as the EU negotiates distribution across the bloc.
There were also fears that there would be a cap on the number of doses each participating country would receive.
One government source told the British daily: “The terms just weren’t right for us. The EU scheme wouldn’t allow the UK to do anything more than it currently is.”
The sources added that the benefits to the UK would be “limited” as the UK is receiving similar prices from pharmaceutical companies as other countries, despite the EU claiming it would be able to negotiate lower costs due to its collective purchasing power.
The UK is currently leading the global race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, having signed a deal with British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The scheme began phase two human trials in May, and if successful, the UK would be the world’s first recipient of the vaccine.
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