UPDATE 26th March 2020: UK must keep working with the world
We add to this petition our call to the government to immediately take advantage of the Europe-wide joint bulk-buy for medical supplies our NHS urgently needs.
And we add our call for the UK to take part in the EWRS, Europe's Early Warning and Response System for disease control across borders.
We are urging the government to make sure Britain doesn't fall to the back of the queue for a coronavirus vaccine, when it becomes available.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has an emergency procedure for the fast-track approval of a new vaccine in the event of a pandemic. This guarantees co-operation between EU member countries and grants them quick access to the life-saving drug. With the coronavirus vaccine delivery date set for next year, the UK will be outside the EU, and outside the authority of the EMA or ECDC, once it’s ready. Britain would be denied quick access to a coronavirus vaccine.
Not only this, being outside the EU's ability to purchase enough vaccines, Britain's buying power as a small nation puts it behind other larger customers who might be prioritised. We want to ensure as many lives as possible can be saved when a vaccine becomes available. We need to reassure those with older relatives and those in vulnerable groups that they all have access to a vaccine - they simply cannot risk the wait.
That means coming to an agreement with the EU and the EMA or ECDC as soon as possible. Not only this, but it’s time to reconsider our timeline for the transition, to prioritise the safety of all. The Government should be proactive in beginning negotiations now, so that a practical agreement can be in place for when a vaccination is available.
A global Britain cannot be seen to walk away from a global crisis. We need co-operation and partnership with our closest allies to save as many lives as possible. Now is the time to work together. That’s why we are calling on the government, as a matter of urgency, to come to an agreement with the European Commission, the ECDC and the EMA, to secure a vaccine for the British people.