AstraZeneca fails to allay EU Commission's fears over vaccine supply

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca was questioned by the EU on Monday about last week's announcement it cannot meet delivery targets up to the end of March
AstraZeneca fails to allay EU Commission's fears over vaccine supply

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned AstraZeneca it must meet contractual obligations for delivery of the vaccines. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The European Commission was not satisfied with how pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca responded on Monday to fears around reductions in vaccine delivery plans.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is expected to address the implications for Ireland later on Monday.

The vaccine, developed by the company with Oxford University, has been seen as a game-changer in Ireland for its ease of delivery. 

Ireland’s share of an EU deal would come to 3.3m doses and the first shipment had been expected by mid-February.

However on Friday, the company told the EU it would now only deliver about 60% of initial deliveries to the EU between now and the end of March.

On Monday afternoon, following a meeting between AstraZeneca and the commission, the frustration was clear.

Commissioner for health and food safety Stella Kyriakides asked the company in writing at the weekend which doses have been produced and where so far, and whether they have been delivered and to whom.

She said:

The answers of the company have not been satisfactory so far. That is why a second meeting is scheduled for tonight. 

"The European Union wants the pre-ordered and pre-financed doses to be delivered as soon as possible.“ 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is expected to address the implications for Ireland on delayed vaccine delivery later on Monday. File picture.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is expected to address the implications for Ireland on delayed vaccine delivery later on Monday. File picture.

Earlier on Monday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned AstraZeneca it must meet contractual obligations for delivery of the vaccines.

The EU made an up-front payment of €336m to AstraZeneca to help boost production, an EU official told Reuters in August.

AstraZeneca said on Friday evening: “Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” 

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