The European Union’s dispute with pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca over supply bottlenecks for the Coronavirus vaccine threatens to strain Brussels’s relations with Great Britain.
European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Wednesday called for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be made available to the European Union from two British production facilities that have so far mainly supplied Great Britain. The London government has insisted that the amount of vaccine doses intended for the UK cannot be changed.
Astrazeneca announced last week that it would be able to supply the European Union with much less vaccine than planned in the near future due to production problems at a plant in Belgium. Initially, there was talk of a 60 percent reduction in the first quarter. The representative of the European Union has now spoken at 75 per cent. Brussels is particularly upset that the United Kingdom and other non-EU countries appear to be receiving unreduced volumes.
Astrazeneca President Pascal Suriot justified this in an interview with several European newspapers by saying that the European Union entered into a supply contract at a later date. Also, his company has never committed to fixed delivery volumes to the European Union, but only “us.” We will do our best. “
Kyriakides, Commissioner of Health, said this opinion was “untrue and unacceptable”. The treaty also does not stipulate that “any country or the United Kingdom shall have priority because it has been signed earlier.” In addition to two production sites in the European Union, two in Great Britain are expressly included in the agreement, and “therefore they have to deliver now”.
If Astrazeneca begins diverting vaccine shipments from its UK manufacturers, that in turn could jeopardize UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to vaccinate 15 million Britons by mid-February. “Astrazeneca is committed to two million doses per week here in the UK,” a Johnson spokesman said. We expect the contracts to remain. “
An EU representative said Astrazeneca has not yet been able to adequately explain to Brussels how the delivery bottlenecks occurred. Presentation of the facts is “inconsistent”. There are also suspicions that the vaccine doses intended for the European Union have been exported.
“No company should be under the pretense that we don’t have the resources to understand what’s going on,” said Kyriakides. The European Union will find out where these boxes are sent.
The European Union meeting with company representatives Wednesday evening to resolve the dispute initially created confusion. According to the European Union Commission, Astrazeneca canceled the meeting in a short time. A company spokesperson disagreed. European Union officials finally confirmed that the evening meeting would take place as planned.
Astrazeneca vaccine has not yet been approved in the European Union. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) could give the green light to this Friday.
However, due to the lack of adequate testing data for older adults, consent can be restricted to younger age groups. The company and the Federal Health Ministry categorically rejected a press report that the effectiveness of the Astrazeneca vaccine decreased by only eight percent in people over the age of 65.