Boris Johnson has warned the effects of a third wave of coronavirus will “wash up on our shores” from Europe, the BBC Reports.
The PM said the UK should be “under no illusion” we will “feel effects” of growing cases on the continent.
His comments come amid a row over Covid vaccine supplies, after the president of the European Commission warning the EU could “forbid” doses made in the bloc from being exported to the UK.
EU leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss their plans.
German officials confirmed the PM spoke to Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday – and the BBC understands he also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron – about the ongoing issue, which would affect exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made in Europe.
Mr Johnson said he “talked to EU friends repeatedly” during the pandemic and had been “reassured… over the last few month they don’t want to see blockades”.
Downing Street also said the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, had told Mr Johnson earlier this year that the EU was not intending to restrict exports of vaccines.
Earlier, her chief spokesman, Eric Mamer, insisted that Brussels was not seeking to ban vaccine exports, but wanted pharmaceutical firms to meet their contractual obligations to the bloc.
Mr Mamer said: “In that context, the president has said that, of course, we see that, actually, companies that manufacture doses in the EU have been exporting very widely – which is in itself a good thing – but that we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in these exports.”
The latest flashpoint appears to be over doses made in a Dutch factory.
Asked if he was worried about the row, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I am reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades.”
But he went on to issue a warning about what the growing infections in Europe could mean for the UK.
The PM said: “On the continent right now you can see, sadly, there is a third wave under way.
“And people in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, I’m afraid it washes up on our shores as well.”
He added: “I expect we will feel those effects in due course. That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can.”
Meanwhile, the long-awaited results of the US trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which involved more than 32,000 volunteers, show that the jab is safe and highly effective.
Several European leaders paused rollout of the vaccine amid concerns of a possible link with blood clots. UK and EU regulators said there was no evidence the vaccine causes blood clots.
European leaders have faced criticism for the slow pace of the vaccine rollout on the continent.
Less than 12% of the EU’s population is reported to have received the vaccine, compared with nearly 40% in the UK – although the bloc has 446 million citizens, compared to almost 67 million in the UK.
The EU has encountered production problems with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca said the fact that EU contracts were signed later than with the UK caused problems with supplying their vaccine.
Downing Street has previously said that it does not believe that vaccine supply issues will affect the current road map for easing lockdown restrictions.
Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately told BBC Breakfast the UK was “on track” to meet its target of offering the vaccine to the top nine priority groups by 15 April and to all adults by the end of July.
There is also enough supply to ensure people have their second doses, she added.
But the Guardian says a report by data analysts Airfinity suggests that if an export ban was applied to all vaccines – including those from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that have yet to be deployed in the UK – it would see the offer of a first vaccine to every adult completed in late August rather than the target date of 31 July.