EU says AstraZeneca not doing enough to meet vaccine delivery target

A healthcare professional will prepare a dose of the Oxford / AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the vaccine center at the Brighton Center in Brighton, southern England on January 26, 2021.

Ben Stensall | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – The European Union has asked AstraZeneca to do more to meet its contract with the bloc as concerns grow that the pharmaceutical company will again miss delivery targets.

It is not the first time that the EU and the drug giant have been at odds with each other. AstraZeneca initially offered to sell around 100 million Doses of his Covid-19 burst before the end of March. However, the company had to renegotiate that amount to just 40 million due to manufacturing issues.

The European Commission, the body that negotiates vaccination contracts on behalf of the 27 member states, is now concerned that this reduced amount will not be respected either.

“AstraZeneca vaccine supply: I see efforts but not ‘best efforts’. This is not yet good enough for AstraZeneca to meet its Q1 commitments,” said Thierry Breton, Internal Market Officer, Thursday evening on Twitter .

Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control shows that 11.76 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been delivered as of Thursday.

“It is time for AstraZeneca’s board of directors to take on their fiduciary responsibility and do everything possible now to meet AZ’s commitments,” said Breton.

AstraZeneca wasn’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out on Friday.

The firm’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, told European lawmakers last month that the reason for the delays was the low return on EU plants. He also said his company was working around the clock to increase production and that it only had six months to prepare the sting, compared to other previous work that took years to develop a new vaccine.

EU “a watchful eye”

At a press conference last month, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU was “closely monitoring” AstraZeneca’s deliveries.

The supply problem has caused Italy to stop shipping AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia last week.

European countries can ban the export of Covid-19 vaccines if a pharmaceutical company fails to perform its contract and the vaccines are supposed to go to a country that is not classified as vulnerable. Low- and middle-income countries and neighboring countries are exempt from these restrictions.

Realizing that there may be further problems with AstraZeneca’s deliveries could lead Member States to stop further deliveries of this vaccine.

The introduction of vaccination is fundamental to the region’s economic recovery, and new problems with bumps could ruin the exit from the crisis.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Thursday: “The ongoing vaccination campaigns and the gradual easing of containment measures – apart from other adverse developments related to the pandemic – support expectations of a significant recovery in economic activity over the course of 2021.” “

The EU vaccination program has so far been criticized several times. Some countries have complained that regulators are too slow to approve the bumps compared to other parts of the world. There were production and delivery problems. Bureaucracy at the national level has also hampered the process.

The EU has committed to vaccinating 70% of the adult population before the end of summer.

Earlier this week, the commission agreed with Pfizer and BioNTech to receive 4 million additional doses of their vaccine over the next two weeks.

On Thursday, the block also approved its fourth Covid-19 vaccine with the Johnson & Johnson candidate.

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