UK SCIENTISTS have been told they can no longer take part in meetings organised by a key European infectious diseases agency due to Brexit tensions, it has emerged.

A leading infectious disease expert who had been asked along to two meetings by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) was subsequently told the invite was cancelled, according to a report published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The reason given was that it was due to “the recent developments in the European Union-United Kingdom relations”, the journal reported.

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It also said the ECDC, which shares knowledge about infectious diseases such as covid, flu, ebola and monkeypox, confirmed that UK scientists are no longer invited to their meetings and that this was not an isolated decision but part of a wider EU policy.

Responding to the decision Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “This is a recognition that Brexit has consequences, and the form of Brexit the UK has chosen has more severe consequences than were necessary.

“The situation with the ECDC is very regrettable but can only be fixed by British ministers showing that they can be trusted.

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“This will not be easy, given how some have behaved to date.”

The BMJ also highlighted concerns over UK involvement with Europe’s key funding programme for research and innovation.

Plans for the UK’s associate membership of Horizon Europe drawn up under previous trade deal negotiations have been impacted by the row over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.

While the UK Government has promised to match funding from the programme if the dispute is not resolved, Robin Grimes, foreign secretary of the independent scientific academy the Royal Society, said: “Two years on, we are still waiting.

"While we wait, confidence in and around UK science is ebbing away and we are losing talent.”