British drugmaker AstraZeneca took 336 million euros from the European Union for guaranteed orders and delivered vaccines elsewhere. Now EU is angry and is threatening AstraZeneca to block its export of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.
The European Union’s heath commissioner has said AstraZeneca’s delay in delivering COVID-19 vaccines is “not acceptable.”
The EU paid €336 million for guaranteed orders and is angry the company is delivering elsewhere.
EU officials have claimed the contractual right to access company accounts to verify production and delivery numbers.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is reported to have spoken with AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot before Monday’s meeting to remind him of his company’s commitments.
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A spokesperson for the company said Soriot assured von der Leyen that AstraZeneca was doing all it could to deliver the vaccine.
Last August, the EU made an upfront payment of €336 million ($409 million) to the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company — the bloc’s first COVID-19 vaccine deal — in order to expand production and secure 300 million doses of the drug developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
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EU officials speaking with Reuters news agency last week said the bloc could expect a 61% cut to its order, meaning it may only receive as few as 31 million doses.
AstraZeneca has said “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our EU supply chain.”
Now, the EU has threatened to limit exports of coronavirus vaccines to other countries after AstraZeneca said EU countries will receive millions fewer jabs than they had ordered.
EU officials issued the warning after AstraZeneca, which manufactures COVID-19 jabs in the UK, last week informed Brussels that it would be delivering “considerably” fewer jabs in the coming weeks than the bloc has ordered due to production problems.
In response, the EU’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides indicated that Brussels would consider placing export limits on coronavirus vaccines which are manufactured within the EU.
Discussions with @AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations. EU Member States are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold.— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) January 25, 2021
“In the future, all companies producing vaccines against Covid-19 in the EU will have to provide early notification whenever they want to export vaccines to third countries.”
AstraZeneca’s warning that it would not be able to fulfill the EU’s whole order comes after Pfizer also announced a temporary slowdown in vaccine supply to the EU earlier in January.Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn on Tuesday supported the EU’s proposal to limit vaccine exports.
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