Did Matt Handcock have to turn up on the radio one Wednesday morning, and say the following: “Because of Brexit we’ve been able to make a decision to do this based on the UK regulator, a world-class regulator, and not go at the pace of the Europeans, who are moving a little bit more slowly.”
Within hours, naturally, June Raine, who is the head of the world-class regulator in question, would be on the television to say the following: “We’ve been able to authorise supply of this vaccine under provisions under European law, which exist until 1 January.
The truth is not especially complex. The UK is still entirely bound by EU regulations and will be until 1 January, which allows any country at all to grant regulatory approval to a new drug or medicine for emergency use, which the UK has done.
EU members have been discouraged from doing the same, as they are purchasing the vaccine as a bloc, not as individual member states. And, as a bloc, the EU has ordered significantly more doses per capita of the Pfizer vaccine than the UK, and thus will use it to achieve widespread immunity before the UK does (though, of course, other vaccines will be available by then). So the UK’s very short headstart will certainly count for very little, and could well end up being entirely detrimental.
But who cares about that? Certainly not Matt Hancock, who, having campaigned for Remain, sees absolutely no problem at all anymore with praising Brexit as the ultimate deliverer of a vaccine invented in Germany by Turkish immigrants.