Don't test us! Furious France loses it on vaccines – warns UK it will not be ‘blackmailed’

Risking a further escalation in tensions, its foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said our mass immunisation drive is bound to hit by “problems” because we don’t have enough doses stored up. He suggested Downing Street will have to come begging for shipments from Europe to “fully vaccinate” its population after prioritising delivering first doses. But British officials dismissed the Frenchman’s antagonistic attack on our jabs scheme, insisting Britons will not miss out on their second doses.

It came as wrangling with Brussels over cross-Channel cooperation of Covid jabs was intensified.

Mr Le Drian said: “The UK is proud to have vaccinated many people with the first dose, but they will have a problem with the second dose.

“And we are fully vaccinated with two doses, not one. Today we have the same number of fully vaccinated people in France and the UK.

“A cooperative relationship must be found with the UK so that AstraZeneca fulfils its signed commitments with the EU, but we can’t accept any sort of blackmail.

“The UK is pushing for the first jab, knowing there will be problems with the second one. Europe does not have to pay the price for this policy.”

His intervention came after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for Brussels to crackdown on vaccine shipments to Britain.

No10 has urged EU nations, including France, Italy, Spain and Austria, to reconsider their threat to trigger a full-blown.

Cabinet minister Robert Jenerick insisted Britain’s vaccination charge will not be hindered by Brussels sabre-rattling.

The Housing Secretary said there was “no reason to worry” about the UK’s supplies and everyone who has been promised a second dose will receive it on time.

He said: “Absolutely, we are confident we have got the supplies that we need both to meet our mid-April target of vaccinating all over-50s and those people with clinical vulnerabilities, and the bigger target, which is that every adult as least has had their first jab by the end of July.

“Of course, anyone who has an appointment for a jab, either their first or second one, there is no need to worry – those appointments will be honoured.”

British officials are keen to steer the EU away from a full-blown trade war over vaccines.

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Brussels is furious with the Anglo-Swedish firm after it repeatedly slashed the number of jabs it will ship to the EU due to production hiccups.

Mr Breton said: “Of course, AstraZeneca has been an issue…We had a problem with this company.

“We have the tools and will make sure everything stays in Europe until the company will come back to its commitments.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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