Vaccine row dampens outlook for financial services solution

Three months on there are continued rumblings over Brexit and the behaviour of the European Union.

Current headlines are dominated by the speech given by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in which she alluded to a plan to halt exports of vaccines to the UK, despite many states in the EU having suspended the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Yesterday NHS England effectively put a halt to the UK’s vaccination programme with order that not first dose appointments should be booked for the whole of April.

The UK Government say the supply issue a blip and that things remain on track. However, experts beg to differ.

Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “It’s to be expected that supply of Covid-19 will be variable, but to delay vaccination for the under-50s by a month is more than a bump in the road.  To pretend that everyone at risk has been vaccinated is misleading.”

He highlighted during the pandemic, more men in their 40s were admitted to Intensive Care Units than men and women over 85 and the government were clearly expecting to proceed at pace with the vaccinations, otherwise they wouldn’t need to stop appointments being made in April.

Dr Clarke warned: “We don’t yet know exactly why the delay has occurred, but the ripple effects could last for months.  It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been.  By pushing back the under-50s first doses, their second doses are also being pushed back.  If full vaccination becomes required for holidays abroad or even more mundane things like going to the cinema, millions of younger people may end up being excluded from participating for the whole summer.”

For the UK and London market the issues run deeper. There is a growing concern over the operational future within the EU amid fears regulators are taking a tougher line with the EU domiciled companies created to access the market post Brexit. The is talk of regulators expressing concerns over the secondment of staff to European entities and significant questions remain unanswered around the way in which premiums and funds are handled.

UK insurers and brokers had moved quickly to plan for a worst possible outcome once the referendum result was announced but the reality has delivered continued uncertainty. The hope had been that the UK and EU would finally come to an agreement on the future financial services relationship once the dust had settled on the eleventh hour trade deal.

Those hopes look to be further away than ever as the bitter row over vaccines continues and the expectation is that the divorce is expected to become ever more bitter in the coming months.

For the UK and London market the issues run deeper. There is a growing concern over the operational future within the EU amid fears regulators are taking a tougher line with the EU domiciled companies created to access the market post Brexit.

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