UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has ruled out any delays to the country importing Covid-19 vaccines, regardless of whether the UK manages to negotiate a trade deal with the EU before the end of year Brexit deadline. 

Speaking to British media, Shapps reassured the public that the government has signed a freight contract which will allow the UK to import ‘Category 1 goods’, such as vaccines, as well as ensuring that there is a “back up” plan in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

British firm Croda International, which provides a key ingredient in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, had warned that overcoming a potential Brexit disruption is a “crucial step” in ensuring that millions of Britons can access the jab when it is approved. 

On Thursday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Question Time that, if there was disruption across the English Channel for goods transports, the UK would be prepared to fly the vaccines in “to avoid those problems.” 

The news comes after the UK government announced that it had purchased 40 million doses of the Belgium-manufactured Pfizer vaccine, which was recently revealed to be more than 90 percent effective, as hopes grow that the first jabs will be available before Christmas. 

There had been concern that the UK’s exit from the single market and customs union at the end of the transition period could delay imports due to the implementation of new customs checks or other measures, after Business Secretary Alok Sharma failed to alleviate fears at a press conference on Thursday. 

Time is running out for the UK and the EU to negotiate a deal on the future relationship between the two sides, as the December 31 deadline fast approaches.

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