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LONDON (Reuters) – Millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could be airlifted to Britain if ports are snarled up when the Brexit transition period ends delaying the import of medicines, a junior foreign office minister said on Monday.

“We have extensive plans in place to ensure the protection of our vaccines, that is absolutely the priority product,” James Cleverly told Sky News. “We’ve looked at the use of non-commercial flights, we have border arrangements in place.”

Britain is preparing to become the first country to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, initially making the shot available at hospitals for care workers and the most vulnerable before distributing stocks to doctors’ clinics.

Asked if the vaccine would be airlifted in from a manufacturing site in Belgium if necessary, Cleverly said “amongst other things, yes”.

Transport between Britain and mainland Europe is likely to be severely disrupted if an EU trade deal is not agreed before transitional arrangements expire at the end of the year.

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