AstraZeneca says Covid-19 vaccine delivery talks with EU will go ahead

The comments came after EU officials said earlier that the company had pulled out of the meeting to discuss delayed vaccine commitments to the 27-nation bloc.
AstraZeneca says Covid-19 vaccine delivery talks with EU will go ahead

The latest disagreement between the two sides came after AstraZeneca rejected the EU’s accusation that the company had failed to honour its commitments for the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine. File Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

AstraZeneca said it has not pulled out of vaccine talks with the European Union and plans to meet EU officials later today in Brussels.

The comments came after EU officials said earlier that the company had pulled out of the meeting to discuss delayed vaccine commitments to the 27-nation bloc. The talks were due to be the third in as many days.

The public dispute between AstraZeneca and the EU has raised concerns about vaccine nationalism, as countries desperate to end the pandemic compete to make sure they obtain as many of the precious vaccine shots as possible.

The latest disagreement between the two sides came after AstraZeneca rejected the EU’s accusation that the company had failed to honour its commitments for the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine.

The company says figures in its contract with the EU were targets that could not be met because of problems in rapidly expanding production capacity.

AstraZeneca said in a statement that it “understands and shares in the frustration that initial supply volumes of our vaccine delivered to the European Union will be lower than forecast”.

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot made the comments in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica following days of criticism from EU leaders furious about the news that initial shipments from AstraZeneca would be lower than anticipated.

The drugmaker said last week that it planned to cut initial deliveries in the EU to 31 million doses from 80 million due to reduced yield in the manufacturing process.

“Our contract is not a contractual commitment,” Mr Soriot said. “It’s a best effort. Basically we said we’re going to try our best, but we can’t guarantee we’re going to succeed. In fact, getting there, we are a little bit delayed.” On Monday, the EU threatened to impose tight export controls within days on Covid-19 vaccines made in the bloc.

The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries such as Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its healthcare workers and most vulnerable people. 

That is despite having more than 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began.

The shortfall of planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine comes at the same time as a slowdown in the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech shots, as that company upgrades production facilities at a plant in Belgium.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to get medical approval in the bloc on Friday

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Discover the

Install our free app today

Available on

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.