The boss of the British company supplying a crucial ingredient of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has warned that avoiding Brexit border disruption will be “a crucial step” in ensuring it is available to millions of people.
Yorkshire-based Croda International has provided a key chemical element of the vaccine to Pfizer in the trial phase, and has won a five-year contract that will see it deliver materials for 1.3 billion doses next year alone, worth around £75m.
Distributing the doses is a huge challenge and, deal or no-deal, the UK will have new customs controls from 1 January.
With the government warning of border delays of up to 48 hours, Croda’s chief executive Steve Foots told Sky News that Brexit poses a risk.
“The worry of course, the last thing we need, is a problem with a lack of an agreement, and you’ve got friction at the borders, and I’m sure the UK government are acutely aware of this,” he said.
“We must make sure that the vaccine doesn’t have any problems getting into the UK, into the supply chain, or even the practical issues of refrigerant technologies and everything else. They could be products that are needed for the UK that are sourced abroad, so making sure that we are free from friction at the borders is is a crucial step for the vaccine.”
The warning comes 50 days before the Brexit transition period ends and with negotiations continuing on key areas to unlock a trade deal.