No10 ‘asked for Union Jack flag branding on new Oxford coronavirus vaccine’
Aides reportedly requested a Union Jack was put on the branding of the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Image: PA)
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No10 officials reportedly requested the new Oxford University vaccine was branded with a Union Jack flag.
The newly formed "Union Unit", which was set up to battle Scottish independence, urged the vaccine taskforce to insist on patriotic branding on doses of the new jab, according to HuffPost.
Downing Street insisted there were "no plans" to slap a British flag on the side of doses but failed to deny reports that a request had been made.
The Government has formally asked the safety regulator to assess the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for public use following encouraging preliminary results.
Data announced last week revealed it was 70% effective, with a half dose followed by a full dose found to be 90% effective against coronavirus.
The Government has formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
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Scientists said they would carry out a further global clinical trial after admitting the 90% result was due to a dosing error.
Aides were said to be keen to point to the success of the potential British vaccine as they seek to shore up the union amid surging support for Scottish independence.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants a second independence referendum to be held in the early part of the new Scottish Parliament.
The SNP believes that a big win at next year's Holyrood elections would give them a mandate to demand another vote on independence.
Proposals for patriotic branding also come ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period, when the UK will begin to trade with other nations outside the EU.
Another reason could be to reassure the public of the safety of the jab amid concerns about anti-vaxx propaganda online.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There are no plans for the Union Jack to be on doses.
"We've said previously the manufacturing for some of the leading potential vaccines is already under way so they can be rolled out quickly if and when approved.
"Manufacturers are well versed in the best ways to package products like this."
Pressed on whether a request had been made, the spokesman repeated that there were "no plans" to put a flag on the packaging.
The UK has ordered 100million doses of the Oxford vaccine, with 4 million by the end of the year if it is approved by the regulator.
Another 40 million doses would be ready by the end of March 2021.
"We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
"This letter is an important step towards deploying a vaccine as quickly as safely possible."