EU demands AstraZeneca plan to break vaccine deadlock
The European Union failed to make a breakthrough in crisis talks with AstraZeneca and demanded the drugmaker spell out how it would supply the bloc with reserved doses of COVID-19 vaccine from plants in Europe and Britain, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The EU is making more comprehensive checks on vaccines before approval, which means a slower rollout of shots than former EU member Britain and growing public frustration.
The issue has been exacerbated by Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and Pfizer of the United States both announcing delivery hold-ups in recent weeks.
“We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved for Q1,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a tweet.
“We will work with the company to find solutions and deliver vaccines rapidly for EU citizens,” she said, after AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot addressed a vaccine body made up of representatives from the EU’s 27 members.
AstraZeneca said in a statement it had a constructive conversation with the EU about the complexities of scaling up production and had committed to closer coordination on working out deliveries in the coming months.
Earlier, Kyriakides told a news conference that two of the four factories from which AstraZeneca has committed to providing vaccines to the EU are in Britain.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would have been a “great pity” if the United Kingdom had stayed in the European Union’s vaccine programme rather than set up its own plan.
“I do think that we’ve been able to do things differently, and better, in some ways,” he said in parliament.
AstraZeneca, which partnered with Britain’s Oxford University to develop its vaccine, said last week it would cut supplies to the EU in the first quarter, with an EU official saying that meant the EU would receive 31 million doses in the period, or 60% less than initially agreed, due to production issues at a Belgian factory.
The EU has been pushing the company for a week to revise these cuts, but it is unclear how it can force delivery of the agreed amounts.