“It’s time for AstraZeneca to do what it takes to fulfill its commitments”: EU worries about further delays in delivery of anti-Covid vaccines

The information was relayed by Reuters on Friday, which is based on a document from AstraZeneca. The company now evokes 30.1 million doses delivered to the 27 by the end of March (throughout the first quarter), and 20 million in April.

At the same time, Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine (Janssen) was approved at European level on Thursday, said it planned to start deliveries to the EU in the second half of April. The delay of several weeks after the green light for placing on the European market is rather unusual. “We have taken note of the company’s announcements, but are not commenting on the planned delivery timings for each company,” Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker said on Friday. “We are in contact with all the companies, and we continue to expect for April an increase in total deliveries to the EU, towards 100 million doses per month” (all companies combined).

AstraZeneca, which had received the European green light for its vaccine on January 29, had announced even before its first deliveries to Europe that it would finally provide only a portion (about a quarter, according to a European source) of what was expected in the first few months. Rather than a three-digit total for the first quarter (according to a source, the precise commitments being kept secret), it was now a question of 31 million. A fight then ensued between the Commission and the firm over the terms of the contract, the latter claiming to be bound only to “best efforts” while the former accused the company of favoring Great Britain among its clients. . After announcements of inspections of the AstraZeneca vaccine production line, as well as the hasty establishment of a mechanism for “transparency” of exports from the EU, the company announced that it would attempt to deliver 40 million doses in the first quarter, among other things by importing from foreign production sites. This objective now also seems threatened.

“I see efforts but not ‘best efforts'”, reacted Thursday evening via Twitter the European Commissioner Thierry Breton, in charge of a taskforce which looks at the processes and chains of production. “This is not yet enough for AstraZeneca to meet its Q1 obligations. It is time for the AstraZeneca Board to exercise its fiduciary responsibility and do what it takes to meet its commitments.”

Doses blocked in the United States

According to the Financial Times, the difficulties could be linked to unsuccessful efforts so far to bring in doses of the vaccine from the United States, where a plant mentioned as a potential “back-up” of production in the contract with the United States is located. European Commission. The vaccine is not yet authorized in the United States, but the American administration has told Europeans that there is no question for the moment of authorizing the transfer of doses to the EU. This was reported by the Commission to member state representatives this week, Reuters writes. The New York Times spoke Thursday of “tens of millions of doses” of the product AstraZeneca which are stored in the United States.

According to the American daily, the firm has asked the Biden administration to allow consignments to be transferred to the EU, which has so far been refused.

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