The U.K. could by then be outside the authority of the EU’s medicines regulator when a coronavirus vaccine arrives | Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty Images
Brexit could delay UK access to a coronavirus vaccine
Outside EU drug approval and procurement schemes, the UK could pay more for a vaccine and receive it later.
Updated 3/10/20, 5:25 PM CET
LONDON — The U.K.’s efforts to “take back control“ may have yet another unintended consequence — compromising the country’s ability to secure a coronavirus vaccine quickly and cheaply.
Current best estimates put the delivery date for a vaccine over a year away. That’s beyond the Brexit transition period, meaning that the U.K. could by then be outside the authority of the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency.
If the ongoing negotiations don’t result in some form of alignment with the EMA’s approvals, the U.K. could come off as second best, with drugmakers prioritizing the EU market rather than submitting their drug to the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency first.
“The European Medicines Agency is representing a patient pool of 500 million-odd patients,” said Olivier Wouters, assistant professor of health policy at the London School of Economics. “That seems like a more lucrative market for a drug company or a vaccine maker to prioritize.”
What some lawmakers, such as Green peer Natalie Bennett, want to know is whether the government plans to seek special access to the EMA’s rapid approval system.