A UK government unit is said to have demanded that the British flag be printed on Oxford vaccine doses

Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesA dummy coronavirus vaccine placed in front of the British flag.
  • The UK government’s “Union Unit” is said to have insisted that the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford should be labelled with the UK flag,HuffPost reported Friday.
  • People familiar with the matter said there were no plans for the UK flag to be printed on the vaccine doses but didn’t deny the request was made.
  • The plan was said to be strongly supported by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the UK business secretary, Alok Sharma.
  • “Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this,” a government representative told HuffPost.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A unit of the UK government is said to have demanded that the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford should be branded with the national flag of the UK, according to HuffPost.

No. 10 Downing Street’s “Union Unit,” which fights Scottish independence and other campaigns to divide the UK, is said to have asked the government’s vaccine task force to insist that manufacturers of the vaccine label the doses with the UK flag.

People with knowledge of the matter told HuffPost there were no plans for the Union Jack to be labelled on the vaccine doses but didn’t deny the request was made.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca on Monday was found to be 70% effective on average in a late-stage trial, though questions have circulated about the way the trial was carried out.

The UK government has preordered 100 million doses of the vaccine and would be one of the first countries to receive it should it receive authorization from regulators. AstraZeneca on Monday said it planned to make up to 3 billion doses next year.

The idea for the branding was strongly supported by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the UK business secretary, Alok Sharma, the sources said.

“Manufacturing for some of the leading potential vaccines is already underway so they can be rolled out quickly if approved,” a government representative said, per HuffPost. “Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this,” the person added.

AstraZeneca didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider for a request for comment.

Former Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen wrote on Twitter: “Politicising a vaccine isn’t going to save the union. The last thing we need is a repeat of party-political stupidity we’ve seen in the US over measures like mask wearing.”


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The news comes days after health experts questioned the Oxford vaccine’s efficacy, with AstraZeneca acknowledging a mistake in the vaccine dosage during clinical trials.

Some patients got two full doses of the vaccine in the late-stage trial, while others had a half-dose in their first shot followed by a full dose in the second. The half-dose actually appeared to produce better results.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, acknowledged the concerns Thursday and said the company would most likely conduct a second global trial of the two-dose vaccine.

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