UK government demanded British flag be printed on Oxford vaccine doses

  • The UK government’s “Union Unit” has reportedly insisted Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine doses are labeled with the UK flag, the HuffPost reported Friday.
  • People familiar with the matter said there were no plans for the UK flag to be printed on the vaccine doses, but didn’t deny the request was made.
  • The plan was reportedly strongly supported by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and business secretary, Alok Sharma. 
  • “Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this,” a government spokesperson told the HuffPost.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A unit of the UK government has reportedly demanded Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine doses should be branded with the national flag of the UK, according to the HuffPost.

Number 10 Downing Street’s “Union Unit,” which fights Scottish independence and other campaigns to divide the UK, reportedly asked the government’s vaccine task force to insist manufacturers of the Oxford vaccine to label the doses with the UK’s flag.

People with knowledge of the matter told the HuffPost there were no plans for the Union Jack flag to be labeled on the vaccine doses, but didn’t deny the request was made.

The COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, was found Monday to be 70% effective, on average, in a late-stage trial.

The UK government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, and will be one of the first countries to receive it. AstraZeneca said Monday it will make up to three billion doses for the whole world next year.

The plan was strongly supported by health secretary, Matt Hancock and business secretary, Alok Sharma, the sources said.

“Manufacturing for some of the leading potential vaccines is already underway so they can be rolled out quickly if approved,” a government spokesperson said, per the HuffPost. “Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this,” they added.

AstraZeneca didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider for a request for comment.

Former Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen wrote on Twitter: “Politicising a vaccine isn’t going to save the union. The last thing we need is a repeat of party-political stupidity we’ve seen in the US over measures like mask wearing.”

Read more: Wall Street analysts lay out how the unexpected pause in AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine trial could slow the race to halt the pandemic

The demand comes days after health experts questioned the Oxford vaccine’s efficacy after AstraZeneca acknowledged a mistake in the vaccine dosage during clinical trials.

Some patients got two full doses of the vaccine in the trial, while others had a half-dose in their first shot followed by a full dose in the second.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, acknowledged the concerns Thursday and said it would likely conduct a second global trial of the two-dose vaccine.

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