eEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has defended the European Union’s coronavirus vaccination strategy and urged the manufacturer, Astra-Zeneca, to make clear handover commitments. “What I am asking for is transparency and planning for security,” said von der Leyen of Deutschland Funk.
A week ago, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company announced, very suddenly and without reasonable explanation, that it was cutting delivery. European Union orders are binding, not restrictive. “The contract is crystal clear,” said von der Leyen. To prove this, they want the document to be published on Friday.
Excerpts from the contract between the European Union and Astra-Zeneca seem to confirm this. According to Deutschlandfunk, it was agreed that “contrary to what the company claims, two factories in Great Britain were also planned to produce vaccines for the European Union”.
According to the announcer, Astra-Zeneca asserts in the contract that “the group has not entered into any agreements with third parties” preventing the first batch of vaccines from being delivered to the European Union. Thus, the contract conflicts with statements by Astra Zeneca President Pascal Soriot, who said that British factories are exclusively dedicated to supplying vaccines to Great Britain.
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What vaccine is being produced and where is it produced in the European Union is particularly controversial and the commission accuses Astra-Zeneca of supplying the UK in full with the agreed quantity and reducing production only to the European Union. Soriot alleged production difficulties “at a factory in the European Union”, apparently one in Belgium; In a second company in the European Union, production is running flawlessly. Productivity is the lowest in factories in the European Union.
As FAZ learned on Thursday from European Union circles, Astra-Zeneca backed away in the dispute with the European Union. Soriot promised that his company will deliver more vaccine doses to the European Union in February than it was announced recently.
According to the Commission, it was agreed in the contract that Astra-Zeneca would not only be produced in these two plants for the European Union, but also at two sites in Great Britain. Astra-Zeneca violates this agreement and is reserving UK factories for delivery to the UK.
Given the short development time for vaccines within ten months during the pandemic, the initial difficulties are completely understandable, von der Leyen said Friday. The European Commission president said: “It’s good.” But they want an explanation so that the solutions can be found together.
“Not like a bakery”
Von der Leyen dismissed the allegations against her title. The European Union Commission concluded the contract with Astra-Zeneca on time. The fact that Great Britain ordered earlier does not play a role in the company’s delivery obligations. “It’s not like standing in line at a bakery,” she said.
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