Vaccine: AstraZeneca recognizes new supply concerns in EU

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Frankfurt | Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has acknowledged new production difficulties in Europe for doses promised to the European Union, saying it would have to resort to foreign sites to keep its promises of delivery to the EU in the second half of the year.

AstraZeneca “is working to increase productivity in its supply chain in the EU”, and will use “its global capacity to ensure delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second half of the year,” said Tuesday evening at the ‘AFP a spokesperson for the British-Swedish group.

“About half of the expected volume must come from the supply chain in the EU,” and the rest will come from the international network of the firm, said the spokesperson.

The announcement comes after a controversy over AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine shipments to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021, which has sparked tensions between the EU and the pharmaceutical group.

An extraordinary European summit will be held on Thursday by videoconference, devoted in particular to the health crisis.

On the eve of this meeting, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, sought to show optimism in the conflict born with AstraZeneca over the delays in delivery of its vaccine.

“Vaccine manufacturers are our partners in this pandemic” and, while new issues are still on the agenda, “we (them) usually resolve amicably,” she said in an interview on Wednesday. to the German regional daily Augsburger Allgemeine.

She thinks “better to work with companies (…) to improve global production” of vaccines, she adds.

Ahead of EU approval of the vaccine in late January, the Anglo-Swedish group allied with Britain’s University of Oxford sparked anger among EU leaders by announcing that it would not be able to hold its target of delivering 400 million doses to the Union due to insufficient production resources in the EU.

The affair also caused diplomatic tension with Great Britain, which left the European bloc for good, with Brussels implicitly accusing AstraZeneca of reserving preferential treatment to Britain to the detriment of the EU.

The UK government has immunized millions of people with the AstraZeneca vaccine from the end of 2020. But the company did not start delivering to the EU until early February 2021, after the European medicines regulator took its time to recommend its use.