EU distances itself from AstraZeneca

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The European Commission said on Monday to distance itself from the AstraZeneca laboratory as part of its vaccine strategy against COVID-19 in the first quarter, after significant delays in delivery from the Anglo-Swedish company.

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AstraZeneca, whose product “was going to be the mass vaccine for the first quarter” of 2021, could only guarantee 25% of the more than 100 million doses promised, which represents “a real problem” for the Twenty-Seven, Commission Director General for Health, Sandra Gallina, told MEPs.

The European Commission is now turning to vaccines manufactured by BioNTech-Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson laboratories, she stressed.

The German laboratory BioNTech promised Monday to deliver to the EU up to 75 million additional doses in the second quarter of the vaccine developed with the American Pfizer.

“There will be a lot more doses in the second trimester as a new contract will go into effect. We will not only have BioNTech and Moderna, but we will have BioNTech with a new contract, it is double the quantities ”, recalled Gallina.

The tone has risen in recent weeks between European leaders and AstraZeneca, which has accumulated delays in deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine, the third to have been approved in the EU after those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

AstraZeneca had explained that it could only deliver “a quarter” of the doses initially promised to the EU in the first quarter, accusing a “drop in yields” in a European factory. But the European Union implicitly accuses AstraZeneca of having favored Great Britain in the delivery of its vaccines, to the detriment of its contractual obligations with Brussels.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot assured that the company had only promised to “do its best” to honor its contract.

“Schedules are binding when it comes to the vaccine order form […] So I don’t see where your efforts are in there, ”replied Gallina.

She also pointed out that under contracts between the EU and vaccine manufacturers, “we can either receive the products or [nous faire rembourser] the amounts we have paid ”.

The European Commission has allocated 336 million euros to AstraZeneca to develop its vaccine and increase its production capacities, although the full amount has not been paid.

“I don’t have the vaccine, you don’t have the payment from the Commission,” Sandra Gallina summed up.

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